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ACOG Statement on Flawed Study Suggesting Association Between Epidural Analgesia During Labor and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Offspring


Washington, D.C.Christopher M. Zahn, MD, vice president, Practice Activities for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), issued the following statement:

“It is important that women receive respectful, evidence-based care throughout the course of their pregnancy, including during labor and delivery. We know that labor causes severe pain for many women. Many women desire pain management during labor and delivery. Current clinical practice guidance recognizes that there are many medical indications for analgesia and anesthesia during labor and delivery and that in the absence of a medical contraindication, maternal request is a sufficient medical indication for pain relief during labor. Obstetricians, anesthesiologists and other clinicians providing care to patients during labor and delivery should not change practice due to this study, which has severe limitations. The study does not demonstrate a causal link between epidural analgesia and autism and should not alter current clinical practice.”