With the rate of inductions being so high in the United States, the question is raised of, beyond maternal and birth risk, what additional risks are there for babies immediately after birth and long-term?
Babies Born at 37-39 weeks gestation are at an increased risk of autism or an SEN (Special Education Need). It was already known that children born very premature were at increased risk for this, but, until just now, no research had been done on closer-to-term infants. The findings report that these babies, babies born between 37-39 weeks gestation, are 1.16 times more likely than truly full-term babies to develop autism or another SEN.
Additionally, children born earlier are at an increased risk for newborn death, respiratory distress, and modestly lower IQ scores.
An interesting bunny trail regarding this particular article is that, although the article points out many risks for babies born prematurely, as well as Dr. Michael S. Kramer pointing out that
..... both obstetricians and women should be aware that labor induction at the 37th or 38th week is not without risks. And studies should continue to examine the potential public-health impact of the rising labor induction rate.
He is careful to include the comment that:
"I'm not saying we're at the point that we're doing too many labor inductions," Kramer said. But if the rate continues to increase, he added, "eventually, we may get to the point where we do more harm than good."
hmm... so, even though the induction rate is at or above 22%, and...
Precisely why labor inductions rose between 1992 and 2003 is not known; Kramer's team had no information on the medical reasons for individual women's inductions...... he is sure to point out that he is not saying that they are at the point that they are doing too many inductions! Even though those inductions carry obvious risk and the rates are still climbing. Hmm...
I digress... So, all of this to say that there is a great wealth of supporting information and studies to show that we are, indeed, introducing unnecessary risk when we induce women without valid medical reason: when benefits CLEARLY and COMPLETELY outweigh the risks.
I cannot stress this enough. You would not believe the number of women who succumb to an induction because they were 'told they had to if they wanted a chance at a vaginal birth', were 'told their baby was due and now we were risking things by allowing baby to stay in past (supposed) 41 weeks', or were 'told that the baby was getting too big for a vaginal birth unless we have them now'. And on and on...
When we cannot truly know when a baby is truly due based on the gestation wheel alone, and we cannot meddle in nature without increasing risk to begin with, the question is raised, "WHY do we continue to allow early inductions without valid reason?"
A Good Reason is NOT:
- big baby
- supposed due date
- slightly elevated BP close to the due date
- edema close to the due date
- schedule conflicts
- low fluid levels close to the due date
- family in town
I think it is high time that we start to really consider how much faith we put in human interference versus nature's design.