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Induction of labour ‘unnecessary’ in more than a quarter of births

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Induction of labour is ‘unnecessary’ in more than a quarter of births, latest study results suggest.

According to UK clinical guidelines, labour should only be induced if the clinical outcome is likely to be better than if the pregnancy was allowed to continue.

Yet researchers from Aberdeen University – who studied more than 17,000 births in Aberdeen between 1999 and 2003 – found no medical reason for the procedure in 28% of the 5,700 births that were induced.

In the remaining cases, labour was induced for a mixture of socio-economic and valid medical reasons, the researchers said.

‘Induction of labour (IOL) for reasons other than prolonged pregnancy, pre-labour rupture of membranes and diabetes mellitus are unsupported in the recently reviewed national evidence-based guidelines,’ the authors said in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Public Health.

‘Clinicians should be cautious about performing IOL for other indications as this may be associated with an increased likelihood of caesarean section and assisted vaginal delivery,’ they added.

The authors said that more research into both women’s and clinicians’ decision-making about IOL was needed to ensure the procedure is ‘appropriate and acceptable’ to women.

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