Inducing women with low-risk pregnancies at 41 weeks could reduce risk to baby’s life

on 02 December 2019

A paper, co-authored by a professor from the University of Birmingham, indicates that inducing low-risk pregnant women at 41 weeks gestation, instead of 42 weeks, reduces the risk to the baby’s life.

Professor of Evidence Based Maternity Care at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Applied Health Research, Professor Sara Kenyon, has co-authored a paper on establishing optimal time to induce women who have gone beyond 40 weeks of pregnancy.

The paper, published in the BMJ, details the most recent trial which saw Swedish researchers compare induction of labour at 41 weeks with “expectant management” until induction at 42 weeks for those who had not yet given birth.

From the trial, researchers estimate that for every 230 women induced at 41 weeks, one perinatal death could be prevented.

“The findings of this Swedish trial add to what is already known and suggest that while pregnancies that continue to 42 weeks are usually safe and straightforward, there is a small yet significant increase in the risk of neonatal death after 41 weeks.

“Current UK guidance recommends that induction of labour should be offered to women with uncomplicated pregnancies by 42 weeks to avoid the known risk of prolonged pregnancy, including stillbirth. We support the continual review of clinical guidelines as new evidence emerges to ensure best practice.

“It’s important that a woman’s individual needs and preferences should always be taken into account and they must have the opportunity to make informed decisions in partnership with their healthcare professionals,” Professor Sara Kenyon said.

Alongside Professor Sara Kenyon, the paper was co-authored by Lee Middleton, Dr Madelena Skrybant and Tracey Johnston.

The research ‘Induction of labour at 41 weeks versus expectant management and induction of labour at 42 weeks (SWEdish Post-term Induction Study, SWEPIS): multicentre, open label, randomised, superiority trial’ can be found here.