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Scheduling a C-section or Induction? Read This First

ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Updated
February 28, 2017
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Image: Thinkstock/The Bump

If you’re being induced, chances are there’s a medical reason that makes the risk of induction lower than the risk of your continued pregnancy. That being said, if you’re planning on having en elective induction  (or an elective c-section ), you need to be aware that there are risks.

A new study in the July issue of Medical Care, published by the American Public Health Association, says that 1 in 25 US babies are born earlier than medically justified, through elective cesarean sections and elective induced labor.

“Unfortunately, many of these earlier births are ‘nonindicated,’ meaning there is not a medical rationale to deliver the baby early,” says Scott A. Lorch, MD, a collaborator to the study. And when babies were delivered earlier than 40 weeks without sufficient medical reason, Lorch says nonindicated cesarean sections more than doubled the chance that a baby would have respiratory distress or need ventilation. Early-term nonindicated cesareans and early-term induced labor both lengthened the infant’s hospital stay.

Just how many births are early elective deliveries? 3 t0 4 percent each year. “This may seem to be a small number, but with 4 million births a year in the U.S., each percentage point represents 40,000 babies,” says lead author Katy B. Kozhimannil, PhD.

The study looked back at all 7.3 million uncomplicated term births for the past 15 years in California, Pennsylvania and Missouri. The states were chosen for their mixed demographics and large population sizes — these three states combined account for 20 percent of all US births.

Researches also found that women were more likely to experience early-term nonindicated births if they were older, had higher education levels, private health insurance, and if they delivered at a smaller-volume or a non-teaching hospital.

Certainly, you and your doctor may decide an induction or c-section is right for you. Regardless of your birth plan, it’s important to be informed.

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