A study suggests that induced labor at full term poses no harm to pregnant women and their babies, and it may even have advantages.
“We have the preliminary data saying that what we thought about induction — that it led to increased C-sections — is wrong,” said lead author Dr. Vincenzo Berghella, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
Published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the study involved analyzing data from 884 women with uncomplicated full-term single child deliveries at 39 to 41 weeks into their pregnancies whose water did not break prior to labor. Half of the women had induced labor and half had regular care.
The data from the trials show that induced labor did not lead to more caesarean sections than needed, as opposed to previous observational studies that stated so.
Moreover, researchers found that induced labor had brought about some advantages including significantly lower blood loss for the mother and a significantly lower rate of meconium staining (bowel movement of the baby while still inside the uterus), which can lead to infections for both mother and baby. Birth weight was also found to be lower in babies of inducted mothers, with an average of 136 grams less.
Dr. Berghella does not recommend induction for healthy pregnancies less than 39 weeks, however. He added that for those at 39 weeks and later, “induction is safe and effective, even in cases without other complications of pregnancy.”
Final word on this topic will be taken from the results of an ongoing multi-centered clinical trial from the U.S.’ National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Sources: April 23, 2015. “Inducing Labor at Full Term May Have Benefits”. nytimes.com April 16, 2015. “Inducing labor at full term not associated with higher C-section rates”. sciencedaily.com