(NBC News) A major new study of pregnant women by Northwestern Medicine found that inducing labor at week 39, instead of 40, appeared to reduce the c-section rate.
“There was no evidence of harm. And all the evidence was for the mom and the baby a benefit,” said Dr. William Grobman of Northwestern Medicine.
The nationwide study included more than 6,000 pregnant women, with half wanting labor to begin naturally and the other half electing to have labor medically induced at 39 weeks.
The women who induced early were less likely to need a c-section, had a lower chance of developing dangerously high blood pressure, reported less pain overall and babies in the induction group were also less likely to have trouble breathing after birth.
“We would never want to intervene if we believed it was causing harm. But if it’s not causing harm and potentially leading to benefit, it’s certainly something that we believe that woman should have a choice about, and that we should be able to have a patient-centered, individualized approach,” said Dr. Grobman.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists welcomed the new findings but also cautioned that elective inductions should be reserved for healthy women and only after an in-depth conversation with doctors.