- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2018

Choosing to induce labor at 39 weeks is healthy for mom and baby, according to new research published Thursday that found the elective procedure reduced a number of adverse events that can occur during natural childbirth.

Women who induced labor at 39 weeks were less likely to need a Caesarean section and had lower rates of blood pressure disorders.

Babies born from induced labor had a similar, if not slightly lower chance, of all cause-mortality compared to natural birth.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Prior to this study, there was concern that induction of labor would increase the chance of cesarean delivery,” study author Dr. Uma M. Reddy said in a statement. “Our analysis suggests that elective induction at 39 weeks is associated with a lower rate of cesarean delivery and does not increase the risk of major complications for newborns.”

Dr. Reddy is the part of the pregnancy and perinatology branch of the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The study enrolled more than 6,000 pregnant women at 41 hospitals throughout the country who were randomly assigned to either induce labor at 39 weeks — one week before their due date — or proceed naturally.

The “primary outcome” researchers were looking for was the rate at which babies died during or after birth; newborn’s need for respiratory support; seizure, infection, birth trauma or hemorrhage; or other birth complications.

For the group of women who induced labor, these events occurred in 4.3 percent of their newborns. In the natural birth group, adverse events occurred in 5.4 percent. However, the researchers said this difference isn’t statistically significant.

However, the authors point out that relative risk was 20 percent lower in the induction group compared to the other group and reduces the chances for performing a C-section.

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