Reduction of total labor length through the addition of parenteral dextrose solution in induction of labor in nulliparous: results of DEXTRONS prospective randomized controlled trial

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Prolonged labor is a significant cause of maternal and fetal morbidity and very few interventions are known to shorten labor course. Skeletal muscle physiology suggests that glucose supplementation might improve muscle performance in case of prolonged exercise and this situation is analogous to the gravid uterus during delivery. Therefore, it seemed imperative to evaluate the impact of adding carbohydrate supplements on the course of labor.


We sought to provide evidence as to whether intravenous glucose supplementation during labor induction in nulliparous women can reduce total duration of active labor.


We performed a single-center prospective double-blind randomized controlled trial comparing the use of parental intravenous dextrose 5% with normal saline to normal saline in induced nulliparous women. The study was conducted in a tertiary-level university hospital setting. Participants, caregivers, and those assessing the outcomes were blinded to group assignment. Inclusion criteria were singleton pregnancy at term with cephalic presentation and favorable cervix. Based on blocked randomization, patients were assigned to receive either 250 mL/h of intravenous dextrose 5% with normal saline or 250 mL/h of normal saline for the whole duration of induction, labor, and delivery. The primary outcome studied was the total length of active labor. Secondary outcomes included duration of the active phase of second stage of labor, the mode of delivery, Apgar scores, and arterial cord pH.


In all, 100 patients were randomized into each group. A total of 193 patients (96 in the dextrose with normal saline group and 97 in the normal saline group) were analyzed in the study. The median total duration of labor was significantly less in the dextrose with normal saline group (499 vs 423 minutes, P = .024) than in the normal saline group. The probabilities of a woman being delivered at 200 minutes and 450 minutes were 18.8% and 77.1% in the dextrose with normal saline group vs 8.2% and 59.8% in the normal saline group (Kolmogorov-Smirnov test P value = .027). There was no difference in the rate of cesarean delivery, instrumented delivery, Apgar score, or arterial cord pH.


Glucose supplementation significantly reduces the total length of labor without increasing the rate of complication in induced nulliparous women. Given the low cost and the safety of this intervention, glucose should be used as the default solute during labor.

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