The Risks and Benefits of Labor Inductions

A Growing Trend

Labor induction is usually recommended when continuing the pregnancy would jeopardize the health of either the mother or her baby. For instance, if Mom has severe high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, or cancer, or if a fetus is not growing properly, the baby may be better off on the outside. The same logic applies if the amniotic fluid levels are low or if the placenta has begun to deteriorate.

New research suggests that overdue pregnancies, premature rupture of membranes at term, and preeclampsia (a pregnancy-related form of high blood pressure that has increased threefold in the past decade) are also best treated by induction. "Those three areas account for most of the increase in the induction rate," says Charles Lockwood, MD, chair of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale University.

For instance, today doctors are likely to induce an overdue pregnancy at 41 weeks instead of 42. And rather than waiting up to 24 hours after a woman's water breaks, labor is now often initiated after four hours.

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