Does electively induced labor in pregnancy affect a child’s future school performance?


New research published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica found that in women with uncomplicated pregnancies, elective induction of labor at any point between 37 and 41 weeks was consistently associated with lower school performance in children at age 12.

The analysis included 266,684 children born between 37 and 42 weeks from uncomplicated pregnancies in white women in the Netherlands. School performance scores at age 12 years were lower in those from pregnancies with induced labor at 37–41 weeks compared with those with uninduced labor. At 42 weeks, there was no significant difference in school performance between these groups.

The proportion of children who reached higher secondary school level was significantly lower after induction of labor at each gestational week from 38–41 weeks. For example, at 38 weeks, rates were 48% versus 54% in induced versus uninduced. (In the Dutch education system, when children reach the end of primary school, around 12 years of age, they are divided over four different levels of secondary education according to their intellectual ability. All children in the last year of regular primary education take a test to guide the choice of level of secondary education.)

“Of course, if there is an indication to induce delivery before 41 weeks, there is little doubt we should do this. But if the reason is purely elective, it is reasonable to be cautious of these subtle adverse effects,” said Wessel Ganzevoort, MD, Ph.D., senior investigator and maternal fetal medicine specialist at Amsterdam UMC.

More information:
Offspring school performance at age 12 after induction of labor vs non-intervention at term: A linked cohort study, Acta Obstetricia Et Gynecologica Scandinavica (2023). DOI: 10.1111/aogs.14520

Journal information:
Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica

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