Unnecessary Induced Labor Could Increase Complications

Unnecessary Induced Labor Could Increase ComplicationsA new study has found that inducing labor when the action is not necessary actually increases the risk of needing a cesarean section and other complications associated with the birthing process, HealthDay reports.

The Australian researchers found that the practice of inducing labor is already common, and its prevalence is increasing in many more countries. Much of the time, induced labor is selected for "social" and other "non-recognized" reasons, the researchers added.

According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), induced labor includes anytime the birth process is aided by an artificial start through medical interventions. Although it has grown in popularity, the APA also warns that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that labor should only be induced when it is more risky for the baby to remain inside the womb than out.

Induced labor has been known to lead to the baby turning to a breech position, making birth more difficult, as well as a prolapsed umbilical cord or infection if there is too much time between rupture and birth. Medical malpractice lawsuits have also been noted in the past concerning induced delivery.

In the study, the team of investigators compiled data from more than 28,000 women with spontaneous onset of labor, induction of labor for established medical reasons and induction of labor for non-recognized reasons.

When compared to spontaneous labor, mothers who underwent induced labor for non-recognized reasons show a 67 percent higher risk for cesarean section delivery, as well as a 64 percent increased risk that the infant would need to be placed in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). There was also a 44 percent increased risk that the infant would need specific treatment in the NICU.

The researchers also noted that mothers who delivered at or after 41 weeks showed the lowest likelihood of needing epidural or spinal analgesia. Patients who gave birth after 37 weeks were found to have the lowest risk of experiencing a torn perineum during childbirth. Mothers who gave birth after 38 weeks had the lowest risk of complications.

"Our research relates to the optimal timing and management of labor and birth at term for women with an uncomplicated pregnancy," said lead researcher Rosalie Grivell, of the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute. "We hope our findings will increase awareness of potential complications related to the common use of induction of labor in situations where there is no serious maternal or fetal problem."