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Induced Labor at 32 Weeks Deemed Safe

In case of ruptured membrane, it may help avoid infections

FRIDAY, Feb. 11, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Inducing labor 32 weeks into a pregnancy is viable for women who experience premature rupture of the uterine membrane, says a Mayo Clinic study.

A ruptured membrane raises risks for fetal infections, which can include a dangerous bacterial infection linked to cerebral palsy. However, obstetricians have traditionally been reluctant to induce labor before the standard 34-36 weeks.

But the new findings "show us that mothers and babies do just as well when the mothers are induced at 32 weeks rather than later at 34 to 36 weeks, the current standard of care," study co-author Dr. Brian Brost, a high-risk pregnancy specialist, said in a prepared statement. "So, why take the risk of infection in keeping the baby in mom longer, if there's no difference in how the babies do?"

His team analyzed data from about 400 cases of premature membrane rupture. They found that infections in mothers and babies were much lower when labor was induced at 32 weeks compared to waiting for spontaneous delivery. Hospital stays were also much shorter for babies born through induced labor at 32 weeks.

The study authors said their findings shows that labor induction at 32 weeks is an option for women with prolonged premature membrane rupture in order to reduce the risk of infection. This induction must be done at a medical center equipped to care for premature infants, the authors added.

They added that a nationwide, multi-center study is needed to confirm their findings and prompt a change in the current standard of care for mothers with premature membrane rupture.

The research was to be presented Feb. 11 at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine annual meeting in Reno, Nevada.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about premature babies.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, Feb. 11, 2005
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