Induction of labor for normal, full-term pregnancies has been associated with a possible increased risk of cesarean section, but a new study suggests induction might not cause any harm to the mother or child.
Researchers compiled results of five studies from 1975 to 2014 involving 844 women with uncomplicated, full-term (39 to 41 weeks), single-child births. Half of the women were induced and the other half received regular care.
The study, published in The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, shows outcomes in these trials were similar for both groups, proposing that induction of labor at full term does not lead to an increased instance of C-sections.
“This new study is suggesting that, probably, there is no difference between choosing to do an induction and just waiting for the woman to go into labor spontaneously,” says Michael Marcotte MD, Director of Quality and Safety for TriHealth Women's Services.
More Research is Necessary
This doesn’t mean doctors will start inducing labor at full term more regularly. “It’s still going to be controversial,” Dr. Marcotte says. While it’s become more acceptable in the past few decades, “there are still a lot of questions out there about whether it’s better to let a natural process, like the timing of birth, remain a natural process.”
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In addition, gathering data from various, smaller studies, as researchers did in this case, doesn’t provide as strong of a conclusion as one large study, Dr. Marcotte says.
“Our best evidence is when we have one study that’s big enough that can say, without a doubt, that the likelihood of the conclusion is right.”