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Vaginal Deliveries as Safe as C-Sections for Most Preterm Births
Date:8/8/2012

s to one day shy of 32 weeks gestation. All of the babies were eligible for a vaginal birth or C-section.

After comparing the outcomes of the vaginal births with planned C-sections, the researchers divided the deliveries into two groups based on how premature the babies were: 24 to almost 28 weeks and 28 weeks to almost 32 weeks.

The study found that vaginal deliveries for babies in the earlier preterm group who were in the head-first position did not affect death rates for the infants. The researchers noted more than 80 percent of the vaginal births were successful.

If the babies were in breech, however, most deliveries were by planned C-section. The researchers pointed out that only 27.6 percent of vaginal births attempted in these cases were successful.

For babies born at a gestation of 28 to almost 32 weeks, vaginal births and C-sections had the same neonatal death rate as long as the baby was head first. For breech babies, neonatal mortality was 6 percent for vaginal deliveries compared to 1.5 percent for C-sections.

"The detailed information in our study -- not available in birth certificate data -- enabled us to account for the effect of attempted route of delivery and indications for delivery on neonatal mortality," Reddy concluded. "This information has direct clinical applications and is crucial for counseling families about the benefits and risks of attempting vaginal delivery in this situation."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on premature birth.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: Elsevier, news release, Aug. 6, 2012


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