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Induced Labor Unassociated With Higher C-section Rates

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 28 Apr 2015
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A new study finds no link between labor induction and rates of C-sections in uncomplicated pregnancies of singleton babies at full term.

Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia, PA, USA) and the University of Naples Federico II (Italy) combined data from five randomized controlled trials that included 844 women who delivered between 39 and 41 weeks and whose water did not break prior to onset of labor, in order to capture only those women whose inductions were without medical indication (rather than medically necessary). The results showed no increase in the risk of C-section in women who were inducted at 39 weeks, compared to those who were not at least past 40 weeks.

Conversely, the researchers noted several benefits of labor induction at 39 weeks. First, induction was associated with slightly less blood loss than non-induced birth; second, meconium staining—a potentially serious complication present during labor—was also less likely to occur in babies of induced mothers; and third, birth weight was lower in babies that were born by induced labor, but only by 136 grams. The study was published online on April 13, 2015, in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

“Although babies have been delivered for centuries, we are still researching the best and safest methods for the mother and baby,” said lead author professor of obstetrics and gynecology Vincenzo Berghella, MD. “Obstetrics today offers women many more options for pain relief and safe delivery, but we have not studied with proper randomized trials which methods are most appropriate for which situations, and what gestational age is best for mother and baby.”

Women who give birth past their due date (in general 40 weeks) are more likely to have meconium (fecal matter) in the amniotic sac. When this meconium staining occurs, there is an increased risk of infection for both the mother and the baby, and a possibility that the baby will inhale the matter into the lungs, which in some cases can lead to death.

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Thomas Jefferson University
University of Naples Federico II

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