4 years ago

Perinatal mortality associated with induction of labour versus expectant management in nulliparous women aged 35 years or over: An English national cohort study

Gordon C. S. Smith, David A. Cromwell, Katie Harron, Ipek Gurol-Urganci, Jan H. van der Meulen, Hannah E. Knight

A recent randomised controlled trial (RCT) demonstrated that induction of labour at 39 weeks of gestational age has no short-term adverse effect on the mother or infant among nulliparous women aged ≥35 years. However, the trial was underpowered to address the effect of routine induction of labour on the risk of perinatal death. We aimed to determine the association between induction of labour at ≥39 weeks and the risk of perinatal mortality among nulliparous women aged ≥35 years.

Methods and findings

We used English Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data collected between April 2009 and March 2014 to compare perinatal mortality between induction of labour at 39, 40, and 41 weeks of gestation and expectant management (continuation of pregnancy to either spontaneous labour, induction of labour, or caesarean section at a later gestation). Analysis was by multivariable Poisson regression with adjustment for maternal characteristics and pregnancy-related conditions. Among the cohort of 77,327 nulliparous women aged 35 to 50 years delivering a singleton infant, 33.1% had labour induced: these women tended to be older and more likely to have medical complications of pregnancy, and the infants were more likely to be small for gestational age.Induction of labour at 40 weeks (compared with expectant management) was associated with a lower risk of in-hospital perinatal death (0.08% versus 0.26%; adjusted risk ratio [adjRR] 0.33; 95% CI 0.13–0.80, P = 0.015) and meconium aspiration syndrome (0.44% versus 0.86%; adjRR 0.52; 95% CI 0.35–0.78, P = 0.002). Induction at 40 weeks was also associated with a slightly increased risk of instrumental vaginal delivery (adjRR 1.06; 95% CI 1.01–1.11, P = 0.020) and emergency caesarean section (adjRR 1.05; 95% CI 1.01–1.09, P = 0.019). The number needed to treat (NNT) analysis indicated that 562 (95% CI 366–1,210) inductions of labour at 40 weeks would be required to prevent 1 perinatal death. Limitations of the study include the reliance on observational data in which gestational age is recorded in weeks rather than days. There is also the potential for unmeasured confounders and under-recording of induction of labour or perinatal death in the dataset.


Bringing forward the routine offer of induction of labour from the current recommendation of 41–42 weeks to 40 weeks of gestation in nulliparous women aged ≥35 years may reduce overall rates of perinatal death.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002425

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.