Induction of labor at 39 weeks reduces risk

Risk factors associated with c-sections can be avoided with induced labor.

Induction of labor at 39 weeks can help with risks associated with c-sections, according to NBC News. Inducing healthy first-time mothers at 39 weeks of pregnancy instead of waiting for them to go into labor on their own, does not raise any risks associated with C-sections, it actually lowers it.

The new findings go contrary to a long-held belief, based on prior studies, that induction can increase the likelihood of a C-section surgery that carries a higher risk of infection or postpartum hemorrhaging than natural births.

For this trial, that is planned to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, researchers tracked more than 6,100 women in 41 sites across the country. Half of them were given elective, non-medically necessary inductions in the week before their due dates, while the others waited for labor to start without any intervention.

Women that were induced at 39 weeks had lower rates of maternal and fetal complications, including fewer C-sections (19 percent vs. 22 percent); lower frequent preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous pregnancy condition, and hypertension (9 percent vs. 14 percent); and fewer newborns who needed respiratory support (3 percent vs. 4 percent).

The belief that inductions can lead to C-sections was based on past data comparing a woman who goes into labor spontaneously with a woman who is induced at the same point in her pregnancy. The problem is that this could be before the 39th week, when complications had developed, or when the woman had been overdue and had gone past 40 weeks, said the study’s principal investigator, Dr. William Grobman, a professor of OB-GYN at Northwestern Medicine.

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