Labor induction and the odds for having a C-section.

    Obstetricians have suspected for some time that jump-starting labor ups the chances that a woman will have a Cesarean delivery. WHYY reports on a new study that puts numbers to that risk.

    Obstetricians have suspected for some time that jump-starting labor ups the chances that a woman will have a Cesarean delivery. WHYY reports on a new study that puts numbers to that risk.

    Researchers at Delaware’s Christiana Care Health System combed the medical records of about 7,800 patients, and noted the number of women who had a labor induction.

    Study leader Dr. Deborah Ehrenthal only included files for first-time moms, all strong candidates for a vaginal delivery.

    She says induction, whether it was medically necessary or elective, more than doubled the risk for a surgical delivery, a Cesarean section.

    Ehrenthal: We did some estimates, which suggest that about 20 percent of Cesarean deliveries might be attributable to the use of labor induction.

    Ehrenthal says both labor inductions and Cesarean births have been on the rise for years. The leading professional group for obstetricians discourages elective inductions before the 39th week of pregnancy.

    A C-section is often recommended to cut labor short when a baby shows worrisome signs of distress. For the mother, C-section risks include wound infection and blood clots after surgery.

    Drexel University obstetrician Ryan Offer says her patients ask for elective inductions for a host of reasons … scheduling around a partner’s business trip or in hopes of attending a special event for an older child.

    Offer: Sometimes unfortunately, if you are inducing somebody for a social event, if they end up with a C-section, they might end up missing the event because they end up in the hospital longer, or have some kind of complication, or a more difficult recovery. That would preclude them from going to the event either way.

    Offer did not work on the Delaware study but says doctors have long noticed that a labor induction often leads to a C-section birth.

    She counsels patients that induction raises the risk for a surgical delivery, which can be inconvenient, too.

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