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Study Reports No Link between Induced Labor and Autism Risk

Update Date: Apr 22, 2014 03:41 PM EDT

According to the latest research, there is no evidence that inducing labor increases a newborn's risk of autism. The report released by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) supports current guidelines informing doctors when labor should be induced or sped up.

Some published studies have tied induced labor to autism risk. In these studies, the researchers mainly examined the effect of the drug, oxytocin, which is used to help with labor. The findings suggested that oxytocin increased autism risk in an unborn child. Due to these findings, doctors and parents have been concerned about the potential side effects of inducing or accelerating labor. For this study, the committee reviewed these studies and reported that they were small and inconsistent. The researchers stated that there is no concrete evidence that a causal link between induced labor and autism exists.

In order to keep mother and unborn child safe, when to induce or augment labor should be determined by the doctor following current guidelines. Waiting too long can increase risk of a Cesarean section, which can then lead to many more complications.

"When compared with these benefits, the research we reviewed in assembling this committee opinion, relative to the utilization of oxytocin, had clear limitations," Dr. Jeffrey Ecker, committee chair, said reported by Philly. "Because of this, these studies should not impact how obstetricians already safely and effectively use labor induction and augmentation when caring for their patients."

He added, "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."

The study was published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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