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National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Study: Inducing Pregnant Women At Term Reduces C-Section Rate

From NPR, a new report and study suggests that inducing pregnant women at term or close to term actually reduces the C-Section Rate. Listen and follow below:



Healthy women with normal pregnancies can opt to have labor induced without worrying that the decision will make a cesarean section more likely, according to a major study published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.

Obstetricians currently induce labor when a delivery has failed to progress, or if a woman is far overdue for giving birth. But when women who have no medical need for induced labor have talked to their doctors, “We’ve been saying, ‘Well you know one thing you need to know is it does increase the C-section rate,’ ” says. Dr. Uma Reddy, an obstetrics researcher at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

That advice was based on some older medical research. But researchers had doubts about that conclusion. So Reddy helped organize a study involving more than 6,000 first-time mothers with uncomplicated pregnancies, to put the idea to the test.

Half the pregnant women followed the normal course of labor; the other half had labor induced when the baby was full term, at 39 weeks. Overall, mothers and babies did fine when labor was induced with a drug.

“I think the most surprising finding was a decrease in the C-section rate,” Reddy says.

That rate dropped from 22 percent among the women who weren’t automatically induced to 19 percent for those whose labor was induced. Dr. William Grobman, the study’s first author and a professor of obstetrics at Northwestern University, says it’s an important goal to reduce the rate of cesarean sections in the U.S. So even a small percentage drop in the rate can have benefits overall.

But an individual woman might or might not consider that 3-percentage-point drop a big deal. “I think that’s not really for me to decide,” he says. “I think that’s for patients to decide.

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Here is Why We Don’t Know Much about Medications’ Impact on Pregnancy

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As women have children later and later in life, the need to take medications during pregnancy is on the rise. Unfortunately, because very few studies have been conducted on how medications work in pregnant women, we’re really in the dark as to what kind of effects they have on both women and their fetuses. But new legislation aimed to address this lack of knowledge has finally been proposed.

Pregnant women are warned against eating or drinking many things—alcohol, caffeine, sushi, soft cheeses, to name a few—and when it comes to medication, similar precautions are taken. The problem is we actually have no idea how most medicines affect pregnant women or her fetus.

“I think it’s very important for anybody taking care of pregnant women on medication to understand that there are significant risks to not treating pregnant women,” says Maged Costantine, an Ob/Gyn and Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch

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