As the rate of caesarean sections continue to increase, many health organizations are now looking at ways to reduce this rate as higher levels of caesarean sections may suggest that women are being subjected to unnecessary interventions during their pregnancies. With the artificial encouragement of uterine contractions (induced labour) and augmentation labour now being even more popular than previous years, one of the major questions that medical organizations are now asking is if these inductions increase the risk of caesarean section births.
A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal now suggests that there is very little evidence to support this theory. Professor Khalid Khan of Queen Mary University, London suggests that approximately 20 % of births are induced and that these inductions can occur for a variety of reasons such as foetal distress, premature rupturing of the membranes or even an overdue pregnancy.
Caesarean sections are known to pose a great deal of risks to both the mother and baby. These risks include unexpected infections, maternal deaths and even post-natal depression. While there are many speculations that labour induction may increase the risk of caesarean sections, Khan and his research team have indicated that recent studies show fewer caesarean section deliveries with labour induction.
They subsequently conducted a study whereby 157 randomized controlled trials were analysed throughout the period of April 2012. Results showed that for those pregnancies that were induced, there were actually a 12 % lower risk of caesarean section delivery as when compared with regular pregnancies. The results also showed that the reduced risk was valid for high and low risk pregnancies while women who were induced showed a lower risk of foetal death as when compared to those women who underwent expectant pregnancies.
Furthermore, women whose pregnancies were induced with commonly used drugs in the US and Canada also showed a significantly lower risk of caesarean sections. Khan commented on the results saying that these findings support the evidence from other reviews that state that the risk of caesarean deliveries after labour induction is much lower.
Implications of the results
The research team also noted that the results obtained from their study may have further implications for clinical guidelines and related practices and may also influence the type of advice given to pregnant women. They further mentioned that expectant mothers can now be reassured by the evidence obtained that labour induction may not be as risky as was previously thought in the past.