Early Labor Induction in Mothers with Large Babies Prevents Birth Injuries

A recent European study done by Dr. Michel Boulvain, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Geneva University Hospitals in Switzerland, and colleagues revealed that birth injuries can be prevented by inducing early labor in mothers carrying larger babies. The researchers looked into labor induction at 37 to 38 weeks to prevent these infants from growing bigger, making delivery much safer for both the mother and the baby. The research team explained that shoulder dystocia happens in about 10% of large babies. Additionally, larger babies also face an increased risk for suffocation, nerve damage in the spine, and fractures during delivery.

The researchers conducted their study by using sonograms for identification of more than 800 women with large babies. Half of these women were chosen randomly for early labor induction. The other half was monitored until they gave birth naturally. 366 of the 409 women in the labor induction group were induced for labor while 116 of the 413 women in the other group were monitored. The outcome of the study revealed that 2% of infants in the labor induction group had shoulder dystocia while the group subjected to monitoring had 6% of infants having shoulder dystocia. For every 25 labor inductions, one case of shoulder dystocia was avoided. No significant difference was seen in Cesarean section rates between the groups studied.

The study team noted that the limitations of their study were attributed to a small study group. They intended to study a larger study group however, it was difficult getting women to join their study. Additionally, estimation of the infant’s weight in late pregnancy through sonograms can be imprecise. Dr. Aaron Caughey, an Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, not involved in this study commented that this study showed some benefit that early labor, particularly in large babies, despite his concern on the decision between waiting for labor naturally and early labor induction.


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