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Panel questions 'VBAC bans,' advocates expanded delivery options for women
Date:3/10/2010

An independent panel convened this week by the National Institutes of Health confronted a troubling fact that pregnant women currently have limited access to clinicians and facilities able and willing to offer a trial of labor after previous cesarean delivery because of so-called VBAC bans. Many, even those at low risk for complications in a trial of labor, are not offered this option. The panel affirmed that a trial of labor is a reasonable option for many women with a prior cesarean delivery. They also urged that current VBAC guidelines be revisited, malpractice concerns be addressed, and additional research undertaken to better understand the medical and non-medical factors that influence decision making for women with previous cesarean deliveries.

"Declining VBAC rates and increasing cesarean delivery rates over the last 15 years would seem to indicate that planned repeat cesarean delivery is preferable to a trial of labor. But the currently available evidence suggests a very different picture: a trial of labor is worth considering and may be preferable for many women," said Dr. F. Gary Cunningham, panel chair, and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Rigorous research shows that a trial of labor is successful in nearly 75 percent of cases, and maternal mortality is actually lower for women who have a trial of labor, regardless of whether they end up delivering vaginally or by cesarean, though those women who have an unsuccessful trial of labor and undergo a repeat cesarean delivery experience higher morbidity than those who have a successful VBAC.

In light of their assessment of VBAC's relative safety, the panel urged professional societies to revisit existing VBAC guidelines, in particular, the recommendation for "immediate availability" of surgical and anesthesia personnel as prerequisites for offering a trial of labor; two recent surveys of hospital adminis
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Contact: Kelli Marciel
marcielk@od.nih.gov
301-496-4819
NIH/National Institutes of Health, Office of Disease Prevention
Source:Eurekalert

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