Thursday, August 22, 2013
Study is looking at the relationship between autism, womans labor

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
A recent study looked at autism and its relation to a womans labor. As is often the case, the interpretation of the study by the news media was not exactly what was found. The researchers looked at over 625,000 deliveries. There were 5,500 children with autism. That is about 1 autistic child for every 113 deliveries. That is consistent with the current statistics for the frequency of autism. Therefore, this would appear to be a representative sample. The results of the study showed that autism was more common in certain groups of women. Women who had their labor induced were more likely to have children with autism. Women who had their labor augmented (helped by medication) were more likely to have children with autism. The news media interpreted this as suggesting only one conclusion. Their conclusion was that medication during labor increased the risk of autism. That is a possible conclusion. However, it is not the only conclusion. We know that over the last 25 years the incidence of autism has gone up dramatically. It used to occur one in every 1,500 births. It now occurs 1 in every 100 births. If induction of labor were a major cause, then we would expect that the incidence of inductions would have gone up significantly during that time. That is not the case. About 20% of women have their labor induced. That number has been fairly constant since the 1970s. There certainly are other possible conclusions that are actually more likely than the suggestion that medication during labor causes autism. For example, it is possible that prolonged labor in some way increases the chances of autism. If a woman has prolonged labor, she is more likely to receive medication to help the labor along. It is not the medication that causes the autism. It is the prolonged labor. Another possibility is that children who have autism before birth have abnormal labor as one of the symptoms of autism. Thus at the time of delivery, labor is prolonged because of the autism. The result is that the mother will receive medication during the labor to help it along. It is becoming more apparent that autism is genetically determined. What is less clear is if it is genetics alone or if it is genetics plus an environmental factor. In either case, that would make the presence of autism something that occurs before labor. If so, autism causing an abnormal labor requiring medication then becomes the most likely explanation for the data. At this point in time, any of these things are possible. The only thing the new study did was point to something that needs to be studied more carefully. The study did not indicate that medication should not be used to assist with labor. That was a conclusion drawn by reporters and not scientists.

Memory Caf at Cheer A Memory Caf for people with memory loss and their caregivers will be held on Monday, Aug. 26 from 10:30 a.m. to noon, at Ocean View Cheer Coastal Leisure Center. Pets will be the theme of Augusts Memory Caf, and participants may bring along friendly, sociable pets from home, but call first.Attendees will also enjoy live music, refreshments and a presentation by Paws for People. Educational materials and experts in the field will be available. Registration is requested for planning purposes, but not required. Register or learn more by contacting Yolanda Gallego at or 302-539-2671.

Fall-prevention program expanding for seniors To meet the health needs of Delawares fast-growing senior population, the Department of Health and Social Services is expanding free fall-prevention classes statewide called, A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns about Falls. The program, which is designed to reduce fear and increase activity levels among older adults, has been offered through the RSVP programs in New Castle and Sussex counties with more than 330 people taking the classes. The program will now also be offered in Kent County. By 2030, Delaware will have the ninth-highest proportion of persons age 65 or older among all states, DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf said. Classes like Matter of Balance will help to provide the supports and services that our growing number of older Delawareans will need to age safely and with dignity in their homes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls at least once a year. Many of these falls are largely preventable. Because of this anxiety of falling, many older adults often limit their activities, which can result in physical weakness, making the risk of falling even greater. A Matter of Balance classes are led by master trainers and are limited to 12 seniors per class to give attendees a personalized experience. The classes utilize a variety of activities to address physical, social and cognitive factors affecting the fear of falling and to teach fall prevention strategies. After completing the class, participants have demonstrated noticeable improvements in their levels of fall management, fall control, exercise, and social limitations with regard to concerns about falling. A class will be held in Sussex County in Millsboro at American Legion Post #28 on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon, Sept. 10 through Oct. 29. For more information or to register, contact April Willey at 856-5815.

Bike to the Bay for MS Bike to the Bay presented by NRG Indian River Generating Station is Sept. 21-22. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Bike to the Bay is the largest and longest running bike ride in Delaware. The goal is to raise MS awareness and $1 million to support national multiple sclerosis research as well as programs and services needed by more than 1,550 Delawareans with MS. Bike to the Bay attracts more than 1,800 bicyclists. The ride covers much of Kent and Sussex counties, with a choice of six route options, and finishes at the Towers at Delaware Seashore State Park, just south of Dewey Beach.

For more information and to register, visit or call 302-655-5610.

Weight management program offered Aquacare Rehabilitation Services is pleased to offer a weight management program to the community. The 8 to 12 week weight management program includes: A comprehensive evaluation in which an individualized weight management program is developed. Weekly hourly sessions with a physical therapist which may include the development of an exercise program. Weekly water aerobic sessions. The water allows patients to exercise with less impact to joints. Nutritional counseling. Unlimited access to gym and pool to independently work toward their exercise goals. Many times patients with obesity have other underlying problems that may benefit from therapy. If these underlying problems are present, this program will be covered by some insurances. If the individual is referred for physical therapy, the client will work one on one with a licensed physical therapist. To schedule a free screening at the Seaford office, call 536-1774. Diabetes education program Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Seaford, will hold a four-session diabetes education program on Aug. 27, Sept. 3, 10, and 17, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the hospital. Registration is required. The cost of the four-session program may be reimbursable by insurance. This four-session program includes weekly education sessions and individualized meal planning for diabetes self-management. Family members/significant others are welcome to attend the weekly sessions. To register and to obtain additional information regarding the course, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospitals Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2446.

2013 Aids Walk Delaware Registration is open for the 2013 AIDS Walk Delaware which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28, in Rehoboth and Wilmington. To register a group or an individual, visit Sign up today and begin collecting pledges for people infected and affected by HIV disease throughout the state. For more information, contact the Delaware HIV Consortium at 302-654-5471 or

Foundation to help end hunger Harry Keswani announces the formation of his new organization, The Harry K Foundation. The foundations mission is to make sure that no child in Sussex County goes to sleep hungry. Keswani, a local business owner and longtime contributor to charitable causes, was shocked to learn that there were so many children in our local communities going hungry. According to the United States Department of Agriculture as of 2009, in Delaware alone, 241,600 people receive food assistance of some kind. That number is 17,500 per week, state-wide. As the cost of food continues to rise, so does the need to get meals to those in need. Oftentimes, it is the schools who supplement meals to children in need; but there are times when children arent in school - summers as well as weekends - when their stomachs can be left empty. The Harry K Foundation is hoping to fill these gaps with communal support that will feed hungry children. For more information on the foundation and to get involved, visit their Facebook page at

Beebe earns surgery safety rating Beebe Medical Center is the safest hospital in Delaware to have a surgery, according to Consumer Reports magazine. In the September 2013 Issue of Consumer Reports magazine, 2,463 U.S. acute-care or critical-access hospitals are rated according to how well Medicare patients 65 years of age and older fared following surgery between 2009 and 2011. The ratings consider how well hospitals avoided adverse events that lead either to patients staying longer in the hospital for a procedure than expected, or to patients dying. Consumer Reports gave five ratings signified by a range of clear and colored circles: the highest; above average; average; below average and the worst. Beebe Medical Center received the only above-average rating in Delaware. Details can be found onnline at, where the question is asked, How Safe is Your Hospital? A subscription is necessary to view the full report.

Walgreens supports Aids Walk Through the month of August, Walgreens stores in Delaware will be selling Red Ribbons in support of the Delaware AIDS Walk, scheduled to take place on Sept. 28, at the Wilmington Riverfront and Grove Park in Rehoboth Beach. The Red Ribbons will be available at Walgreens store cash registers to customers for a $1 donation as they checkout. For more information about the AIDS Walk or to register to walk, call 302-652-6776 or visit

Annual Treat the Beat 5K Walk On Sept. 8, Beebe Medical Foundation will highlight its focus on heart and vascular health by hosting the 4th Annual Treat the Beat 5K walk to support Cardiac and Vascular Services at Beebe Medical Center. The free event will take place at George H. P. Smith Park at Blockhouse Pond, located adjacent to Beebe Medical Centers main campus in Lewes. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. with the walk starting at 9 a.m. Jeffrey Heckert, MD, FAAFP, CEO of Mid-Atlantic Family Practice, is this years honorary chair. In the fall of 2012, Dr. Heckert underwent life-saving heart surgery at Beebe Medical Center and credits the staff and surgeons for his recovery. The walk is free but all participants must register and are encouraged to raise money. To register, visit or call 302-644-2900.