I wasn’t really sure what the problem was from the headline. Were mommy-bloggers upset over child labor? Were newborns put to work on a drug study? What’s going on?!
Apparently the moms at Babble and The Stir have their granny-panties in a knot reporting, sensationally*, on a press release from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (*meaning they are sensationalizing the results for clicks, not that they are doing a sensational job reporting on the study)
All the hubbub is over Poster #74 at ACOG’s Annual Meeting. Title: “Oxytocin Usage for Labor Augmentation and Adverse Neonatal Outcomes” by Dr. Michael S. Tsimis et al.
What the study looked at?
…a retrospective analysis of deliveries that were induced or augmented with oxytocin. The study included more than 3,000 women delivering full-term infants from 2009 to 2011. The researchers used the Adverse Outcome Index, one of several tools used to measure unexpected outcomes in the perinatal setting and to track obstetric illness and death rates. (Source)
What the data showed?
Researchers found that induction and augmentation of labor with oxytocin was an independent risk factor for unexpected admission to the NICU lasting more than 24 hours for full-term infants. Augmentation also correlated with Apgar scores of fewer than seven at five minutes. The Apgar is a test that evaluates a newborn’s physical condition at one and five minutes after birth based on appearance (skin coloration), pulse (heart rate), grimace response (medically known as “reflex irritability”), activity and muscle tone, and respiration (breathing rate and effort). A baby who scores eight and above is generally considered to be in good health. (Source)
What the authors concluded?
The analysis suggests that oxytocin use may not be as safe as once thought and that proper indications for its use should be documented for further study. “However, we don’t want to discourage the use of Pitocin, but simply want a more systematic and conscientious approach to the indications for its use.” (Source)
The take home message? The study (as far as I can ascertain from the ACOG press release) did not establish a causal link between pitocin use and adverse effects in newborns, it showed a correlation. Like any drug, pitocin isn’t without side effects. Doctors and patients must exercise their judgement in using it- adverse effects from pitocin may be preferable to outcomes of NOT using it and complications of delayed delivery of a baby.
Keep in mind, since this is a poster and not a published paper, the data hasn’t been peer reviewed, actually, unless you are actually AT that meeting, you can’t see the data, because it’s on a poster. My search for the abstract was fruitless, leading me in circles back to the press release.
So, as always, talk to your doctor, ask questions, make informed choices. Don’t just listen to some random mommy-blogger (or in this case, #scimom blogger/Evidence Based Parenting blogger) on the internet.