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posted: 4/28/2014 12:40 PM

No Connection Between Induced Labor and Autism

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Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital

Barrington, IL - According to a new position statement from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), current evidence does not support the conclusion that labor induction or other means of stimulating contractions causes autism in newborns. The findings will be published in the May issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Existing guidelines on when and how labor should be induced or accelerated should not be changed, because limiting labor inductions could have negative effects on the health of women and their babies, ACOG's committee stated.

"In obstetric practice, labor induction and augmentation play an essential role in protecting the health of some mothers and in promoting safe delivery of many babies," Dr. Jeffrey Ecker, committee chair, said in the news release. "When compared with these benefits, the research we reviewed in assembling this committee opinion, relative to the utilization of oxytocin, had clear limitations. Because of this, these studies should not impact how obstetricians already safely and effectively use labor induction and augmentation when caring for their patients."

"Our goal is always to have the safest possible birth for both the mother and the child," says Dr. Heather Herbolsheimer an obstetrician on staff atAdvocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, IL. "Earlier research had suggested a possible link between autism and the use of oxytocin to induce labor or enhance contractions but the studies were small with significant limitations. These new recommendations should be comforting to mothers."

The group also cautioned that any reduction in labor induction would "almost certainly" have a negative effect on patient care, and likely result in more cesarean deliveries.