Research identifies complications from inducing uncomplicated births

on 03 June 2021

Research supported by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has found a high number of women were induced for uncomplicated births at earlier gestations, resulting in higher interventions and poorer outcomes.

Researchers from UCLan, Amsterdam University Medical Centre, the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales looked at the data of 474,652 uncomplicated births at 37 to 41 weeks between 2001 and 2016, including data on children admitted to hospital up to 16 years post-birth as part of the research.

Of the 474,652 births in women who were deemed young and healthy (20-34 years, no smoking, no diabetes, no blood pressure problems, and no abnormalities in the baby), 15 per cent were induced with no medical reason given.

It was also found that following induction, incidences of neonatal birth trauma, resuscitation and respiratory disorders were higher, as well as admissions to hospital for infections (ear, nose, throat, respiratory and sepsis) up to 16 years old.

For first-time mothers (4.2 per cent vs 4.9 per cent) and those who had given birth previously (0.7 per cent vs 1.2 per cent), 3rd and 4th degree perineal tears were slightly lower overall following the induction of labour.

Lead Author, Professor Hannah Dahlen from UCLan’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “Our findings show a high rate of induction in uncomplicated births was associated with short and long-term impacts on women and children, such as increased birth intervention and ongoing child health complications.

“We looked at the data in several ways; by fist-time mothers and subsequent mothers and by each week the labour commenced. Particularly for women giving birth for the first time, induction of labour for non-medical reasons was linked with higher rates of birth interventions and resulted in more adverse outcomes.”

UCLan’s Professor of Midwifery Studies Soo Downe added: “The findings in this paper should be carefully considered by those who are recommending a widespread move toward routine induction of labour and should form part of discussions with women and childbearing people about the best way for their labour to start.”

According to statistics, 45 per cent of first time mothers in Australia are being induced in comparison to 25 per cent recorded a decade ago.

The study ‘Intrapartum interventions and outcomes for women and children following induction of labour at term in uncomplicated pregnancies: a 16-year population-based linked data study’ was published in the BMJ Open.