In a new study published on Monday in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers led by Blair G. Darney from Oregon Health & Science University found that pregnant women who are near — or have passed — their due date can elect to have labor induced with drugs or other medical procedures and will are less likely to need a c-section delivery.
Researchers studied hospital discharge data from all deliveries — roughly 360,000 — recorded in California in 2006, excluding data from women who had a prior c-section procedure. They then compared the roughly 17,000 women that were induced for non-medical reasons to the women that opted to wait and see if their labor would start naturally and after comparing the characters of the women who elected for an induction against those who waited, researchers found that women who were induced were less likely to deliver via c-section.
Researchers found that among women in the study — all of which were at least 37 weeks pregnant — that had previously had a baby, the odds of having a c-section delivery for their current pregnancy was cut in half. They found that 3 percent of women who were induced had a c-section while about 7 percent of those women who waited for labor to start on its own ended up having a c-section delivery. "Our study compared women who were induced to women who remained pregnant, and we found that induction does not increase the risk of cesarean delivery, and may actually lower that risk," lead researcher Darney said.
They noted that the reduction in c-section risk was less pronounced but still seen in women who were expecting their first, as well. About 26 to 29 percent of women delivering their first baby that waited for labor to start naturally had a c-section, while 18 to 25 percent of those who elected to induce labor ended up needing a c-section. "Our study," says Darney, "suggests that when physicians counsel pregnant women at term (37-40 weeks) about the risks and benefits of elective induction, women should not be told that induction will definitely increase their risk of cesarean delivery."
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