Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 15th 2013 Contents B36
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Georgia-Rae Mottley (Investigating O cer)
Aleyya Gafoor-Ali (Legal O cer I)
Haran Ramkaransingh (Head Legal)
Emeritus Professor John La Guerre (Chairman)
Children whose mothers needed drugs to start
giving birth are slightly more likely to have autism,
US researchers say.
A study of 625,000 children, published in JAMA
Paediatrics, showed the autism link was stronger in
Scientists have called for more research to explain
the difference as it is not clear why there would be
Doctors said inducing labour was safe, necessary
and could save a baby s life.
Autism is thought to be caused by a combination
of family, or genetic, risk and conditions in the womb
and early life while the child is developing.
The study of births in North Carolina showed 13
out of every 1,000 boys born, and four per 1,000
girls, developed autism.
However, the rate was a third higher in boys when
their mother needed drugs to induce or assist the
pregnancy, while any effect in girls was more muted.
Researchers said that two cases of autism in every
1,000 births might be prevented by stopping induction.
However, they warned this would come at significant
cost as the procedure could be life-saving.
Prof Simon Gregory, of Duke University, said there
had been a lot of conflicting evidence on autism and
inducing labour, but this study was the largest to
look at the issue.
He told the BBC: "We don t want mothers to say,
Under no circumstances do I want to be induced
because I don t want a kid with autism. That would
be plain wrong.
"We ve found an association and more research is
needed. This allows us to focus on the factors around
birth that may affect autism and how it develops."
The study only shows that the rates of autism are
higher after being induced. It could be down to the
drugs used to begin labour or something else influ-
encing the pregnancy that leads to women needing
to be induced and also affects the developing brain.
Labour is often induced when the pregnancy has
gone on too long and the mother has missed the due
date, normally by at least a week.
Michael Heard, of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foun-
dation Trust and the Royal College of Obstetricians
and Gynaecologists spokesperson, said: "We induce
to improve outcomes. You reduce the chance of losing
the baby and the chance of mum and baby getting
"This is a preliminary statistical overview, with no
clear reasoning why the two things should be linked.
"Induction is very common and is offered for good
medical reasons and is extremely safe. But like most
medical processes there is a small risk associated.
"This is another thing to consider in a long-term
study, but not something I d consider in my prac-
Carol Povey, of the National Autistic Society, said:
"Autism is a complex condition and is thought to be
the result of many different underlying physical and
genetic factors. Its exact causes are still being inves-
"The scientists who conducted this study acknowl-
edge that further research is required before any hard
and fast conclusions can be drawn.
"It s therefore important that people do not jump
to conclusions about this study and its implications."
'linked to autism'
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
What is autism?
• Autism and Asperger's syndrome are part of a
range of disorders that can cause difficulties
with communication and social skills.
• The conditions can lead to isolation and
emotional problems for those living with them
• Conditions can vary from very mild, where the
person can function easily, to so severe they
cannot take part in normal society
• The conditions are collectively known as autistic
thought to be
caused by a
in the womb
and early life
while the child
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