After almost 20 years of steadily increasing, induction of labor for singleton births in the United States declined in 2011 and 2012, according to a new report published online June 18 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.
The study published on Wednesday recorded labor which started through surgical or medical means during the years 2006 through 2012. According to the report, researchers found that induction rates at 38 weeks – once considered full-term gestation but now called an early-term gestation – declined for 36 states and the District of Columbia during this six-year period. Declines ranged from 5 percent to 48 percent.
This is good news for the health of these babies, who can face serious health problems when delivered preterm, said Dr. Edward McCabe, chief medical officer for the March of Dimes.
Declines in induction rates between 35 and 38 weeks between 2006 and 2012 were “widespread by age, race and state,” says Michelle Osterman, a statistician and author of the report. The biggest drop was in induction at 38 weeks, which dropped 16 percent over that time period.
Conventional wisdom used to be that babies born a few weeks early were “just little [full-]term babies,” says Billie Short, chief of the division of neonatology at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. But as research documented problems – and extra costs – hospitals started pressuring doctors to change, she says.