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Elective Inductions Raise Risks For Mothers, Don't Benefit Babies, Study Shows

From Science Daily, “Inducing labor without a medical reason is associated with negative outcomes for the mother, including increased rates of cesarean delivery, greater blood loss and an extended length of stay in the hospital, and does not provide any benefit for the newborn, according to a new study. As the number of scheduled deliveries continues to climb, it is important for physicians and mothers-to-be to understand the risks associated with elective induction.”

This is a story we’ve been hearing over and over again. I do hope the message starts to sink in with care-providers and mothers alike.

The study, which was published this week in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, included 485 women who delivered their first baby between January and December of 2007 at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Unlike most prior studies, the mother’s and baby’s medical charts were reviewed by researchers; they didn’t just look at the medical coding. This closer look at the circumstances–why women were induced, and what the complications were– allowed for a more subtle and thorough understanding of the data. In the study, 34 % of women who opted for elective induction, ultimately had a cesarean section, compared to 20 % of women who labored naturally. C-sections are major surgeries with risks of infection for mom and baby, longer recovery times, respiratory complications for the baby and increased risks for subsequent pregnancies. The induced group experienced more bleeding — even after taking cesarean deliveries into account — and required longer hospital stays. Also, the babies of the induced group  were more likely to need oxygen immediately following delivery and more likely to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

It’s worth noting that this particular study looked at first time mothers only. Women who have already given birth may experience fewer negative consequences to induction as they’re body knows what to do. This is not to say induction is without risk for subsequent births, just that there are different factors to consider. And they were not considered in this study.

Though getting labor started can be so undeniably appealing for a woman at the tail end of pregnancy, it’s crucial that care-providers explain the risks associated with elective induction. “As a working professional and a mother, I know how tempting it can be to schedule a delivery to try to get your life in order, but there is a reason that babies stay in the womb for the full term,” said Loralei Thornburg, M.D., an assistant professor who specializes in maternal fetal medicine. “Why put you and your newborn at risk if you don’t have to?”

photo: JoshSchulz/Flickr

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