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Recent study suggests inducing labor after 39 weeks reduces need for C section

Posted Monday, February 19, 2018 by Tyler Goldberg-Hoss

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently published the findings of a study it funded on the issue of inducing labor in otherwise health mothers after their 39th week of pregnancy.

Current guidelines recommend against inducing labor electively (that is, without a medical reason) before the 41st week because of the perceived increase in need for a C section.

However, the results suggest that, for healthy first time mothers, when labor is induced in the 39th week of pregnancy, the risk of cesarean delivery and preeclampsia went down, as did the need for infants to need help breathing in the first three days of life.

In the study, the differences between the induced labor group and the control group (not induced after 39 weeks) were not striking. C-sections went down 3 percent in the induced labor group, preeclampsia and gestational hypertension went down 5 percent, and the number of newborns needing respiratory support went down only 1 percent.

Still, this is a decided shift in current thinking about the management of labor. We will have to see if it catches on and changes our collective thinking on the issue.

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