ACOG, MFM, Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology, American Society for Anesthesiologists and the Society of Pediatric Anesthesia have released a joint statement in response to a retrospective study (Qui et al. JAMA Pediatrics, 2020) that suggests an association between epidural anesthesia and autism. The joint statement states that this study “…does not provide credible scientific evidence that labor epidurals for pain relief cause autism.”
…our findings should be interpreted with caution given the wide varieties of LEA practice and cannot be interpreted as a demonstration of a causal link between LEA exposure and subsequent development of ASD
Joint Statement by Professional Societies
…if anything, epidurals improve maternal and neonatal outcomes
…five medical societies that represent more than 100,000 physicians want to assure the public that an association between a mother’s use of epidural analgesia during childbirth, and her infant’s risk of developing autism does not imply causation
Millions of women worldwide benefit from epidural pain relief every year and give birth without any complications to mother or baby
Royal College of Anaesthetists
…one of the surprising aspects of this study is lack of data about pregnancy and delivery complications which are known to increase the risk of autism
Such complications as prolonged duration of labour, fetal distress, fetal malposition and assisted vaginal delivery are also known to be associated with an increased request rate for epidurals. It is possible therefore that birth complications are actually the hidden factor linking epidurals and autism
Joint Statement of the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology, American Society of Anesthesiologists, Society for Pediatric Anesthesia, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine: Labor epidurals do not cause autism; Safe for mothers and infants, say anesthesiology, obstetrics, and pediatric medical societies
Position Statement from the Canadian Anesthesiologists’ Society (CAS), the Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology of Canada (SOGC), and the Canadian
Paediatric Society (CPS): Lack of evidence that epidural pain relief during labour causes autism spectrum disorder
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