British scientists found that pregnant women of 35 years of age or older are not at a higher risk of cesarean section if they request induction of labor.
Scientists at the University of Nottingham in the U.K. based their study results on data gathered from 619 pregnant women divided into two groups. The first group underwent induced labor at 39 weeks, while the other group was allowed to deliver their babies without any interventions.
The trial revealed that the risk of having a C-section was nearly identical: 32 percent in the first group and 33 percent in the second group. Nevertheless, 38 percent of women who sought labor induction needed assisted vaginal delivery, compared with only 33 percent in the other group. But the difference was not statistically significant, researchers noted.
The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Kate F. Walker, the lead author of the study, reported that the risk of having a stillbirth is still high in older moms, but the small trial revealed that the lowest risk of infant death was at 38 weeks.
Researchers said that their study is the first one to assess labor induction’s outcomes on moms of advanced age. So far, past research analyzed the implications of the procedure on mothers with diabetes, high blood pressure, prelabor rupture of membranes, and other complications.
While the new findings challenge previous studies that had found a link between induction of labor and high C-section incidence, researchers said that their observations confirm a recent meta-analysis that had found there was no association between the two.
Dr. William Grobman, who has reviewed the study, noted, however, that there is not enough evidence on the benefits of induced labor in older moms. He said that it would be ‘premature’ to change the practices in ‘uncomplicated pregnancies.’ Plus, Dr. Grobman does not recommend induction of labor at 39 weeks, unless there is a clear benefit. Yet so far, the small trial failed to highlight any benefits.
The latest study involved 304 women who gave their consent for labor induction and 314 women who opted for natural delivery. Study authors found that while there was a higher risk of spontaneous labor in the induction group, there was no difference in the risk of C-section in both groups.
On the other hand, women who opted for induction had a slightly higher risk of postpartum hemorrhage, i.e. they lost more than 500 ml of blood at natural delivery, and more than 1,000 ml at C-section delivery.
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