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New Northwestern study suggests doctors advice to pregnant women may be wrong

William Grobman, a doctor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine | Provided

It’s common for doctors in the United States to tell pregnant women they face an increased likelihood of a cesarean section if their baby is induced.

But new research — led by a doctor with Northwestern Medicine — suggests that advice might be wrong.

In fact, the study, to be published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that women are slightly less likely to have to undergo the procedure if labor is helped along with medicine at 39 weeks, rather than if it happens naturally.

The study looked at about 6,100 women across the United States. Half of the group waited for labor to begin naturally; the other half underwent induced labor.

Of those who were induced, 19 percent had C-sections, while 22 percent had the procedure in the group that attempted to give birth naturally, according to the study.

“This new knowledge gives women the autonomy and the ability to make more informed choices regarding their pregnancy that better fit with their wishes and beliefs,” said William Grobman, a doctor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the lead investigator of the study.

Doctors who have told patients C-sections are more likely following induced labor have done so “only from the best intentions,” Grobman said.

“The truth is, we had information that was based on flawed studies and it took a while for people to understand how and why those studies were flawed,” said Grobman, adding, “It wasn’t like doctors were knowingly giving misinformation.”

The study also found lower rates of preeclampsia and gestational hypertension among those women who were induced.

About one in four pregnant women in the United States are induced, Grobman said. C-sections are even more common, with about one in three women having the procedure.

There’s an increased risk of blood clots, infection and hemorrhaging from a C-section, Grobman said.