Inducing labor at 41 weeks gestation may lower cesarean rates in pregnant women without compromising the health of their baby, finds a study in the June issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Researchers at the University of Florida performed a systematic review of 16 randomized controlled trials that compared labor induction and expectant management for uncomplicated, singleton pregnancies involving 6,588 women who were past their due date. They concluded that labor induction at 41 weeks significantly reduced the risk (by about 12%) of cesarean delivery, compared to that of women whose labor was not induced. The study also found that inducing labor post-term resulted in fewer infant deaths and lower rates of fetal distress.
Their analysis of fetal heart rate complications further revealed fewer cesareans with labor induction compared to deliveries without intervention. Researchers say this finding accounted for much of the overall reduction in cesarean delivery associated with labor induction.