Sunday, November 25, 2007

Labor Induction and Prematurity

Induction rates in the US and elsewhere, including india, are steadily rising, causing concern to ACOG (the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), among others. labor induction refers to the artificial initiation of labor, often by cervidil application to the cervix, administration of Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin) through an IV, and/or artificial rupture of membranes (AROM).

One of the many risks/disadvantages of labor induction is potential prematurity. Because due dates are not exact, a doctor who may think s/he is inducing at 36 or 37 weeks, might actually be inducing at 34 or 35 weeks.

This month’s Journal of Pediatrics published a study that found that babies born even slightly premature, at 34-36 weeks, are six times more likely to die in the first week of life than those born after 37 weeks (full term).

Every day in the last weeks of pregnancy is crucial for the development of the baby. During these days, the mother passes antibodies to the baby to fight infection, the baby gains weight and strength, his/her lungs mature, and his/her suck-and-swallow coordination continues to develop.

For more about why it is so important to let labor begin on its own, click here.