A study by researchers at Aberdeen University of 17,000 births found that there was no medical explanation for over 28% of the induced labors.
“We were slightly surprised that it was as high as it was. It raises the question that there may be some unnecessary interventions and we are planning further studies.” -Tracy Humphrey, consultant midwife at Grampian NHS Board.
Of the 17,000 births studied, the researchers found that 32% of the women had been induced, and 28% of those inductions had no good reason, medical or otherwise, for performing the procedure.
The study, published in the Journal of Public Health, said that rates of obstetric interventions were rising, and that more research was needed to find out if the inductions were done with good reason.
“Further research is needed to identify the circumstances of induced labour where there are not good clinical reasons. If women are asking for induction because they are tired at the end of pregnancy, they may need more support, and encouragement to rest as much as possible, so that they can wait a bit longer.” – Mary Newburn, National Childbirth Trust
While the majority of the induced labors were for specific conditions (water breaking before labor, prolonged pregnancy, complications requiring a timed birth), the rate of unexplained inductions has some in the birth and labor field concerned.
“It raises the question that there may be some unnecessary interventions and we are planning further studies. The main debate about unnecessary interventions has focused on cesareans and we have forgotten about the other interventions that go on.” – Humphrey
One of our children was induced a month early because of pre-eclampsia, but I know of several other mothers that had an induced labor offered to them because the labor wasn’t progressing fast enough for the doctor. Not being a doctor myself, I don’t know if inducing those births were necessary, but after reading about this study, it sure does make me wonder…
Image: Raphael Goetter at Flickr under Creative Commons License