Inducing labor in healthy first-time mothers in the 39th week of pregnancy results in lower rates of cesarean sections compared with waiting for labor to begin naturally at full term, according to a multicenter study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Additionally, infants born to women induced at 39 weeks did not experience more stillbirths, newborn deaths or other major health complications.
“This study is a potential game changer and will have a significant impact on the practice of obstetrics,” said senior author, George Macones, MD, head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The study was conducted through the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network, which is supported by the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Macones chairs the network.