Severe Preeclampsia and the Very Low Birth Weight Infant: Is Induction of Labor Harmful?

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Abstract

Objective

To compare the effects of labor induction with the effects of cesarean delivery without labor on neonatal outcome in pregnancies complicated by severe preeclampsia and delivery of very low birth weight infants.

Methods

This was a retrospective study of 278 singleton, live-born infants who weighed 750–1500 g and were delivered because of severe preeclampsia between 1988 and 1997. Outcomes of infants delivered by cesarean without labor were compared with those of infants exposed to labor induction. Statistical analysis was performed using Student t test, Mann-Whitney U test, χ2 analysis, and Fisher exact test, where appropriate. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to adjust for outcomes of interest.

Results

One hundred forty-five (52%) of the 278 women with severe preeclampsia who delivered infants weighing between 750 and 1500 g had labor induced and 133 (48%) delivered by cesarean without labor. Vaginal delivery was accomplished by 50 (34%) women in the induced group. Apgar scores of 3 or less at 5 minutes were more likely in the induced-labor group (6 versus 2%, P = .04), but other neonatal outcomes, including respiratory distress syndrome, grade 3 or 4 intraventricular hemorrhage, sepsis, seizures, and neonatal death, were similar in the two groups. Adjustment for birth weight and gestational age did not affect those results. Analysis of data from the induced-labor group did not reveal an effect by route of delivery on neonatal outcome.

Conclusion

Induction of labor in cases of severe preeclampsia is not harmful to very low birth weight infants.

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