Objective: To undertake a five year follow up of a cohort of women and children delivered by forceps or vacuum extractor in a randomised controlled study.
Design: Follow up of a randomised controlled trial.
Setting: District general hospital in the West Midlands.
Population: Follow up questionnaires were sent to 306 of the 313 women originally recruited at the North Staffordshire Hospital to a randomised controlled study comparing forceps and vacuum extractor for assisted delivery. Two hundred and twenty-eight women responded (74.5%) and all were included in the study; forceps (n = 115) and vacuum extractor (n = 113).
Main outcome measures: Bowel and urinary dysfunction, child vision assessment, and child development.
Results: Maternal adverse symptoms at long term follow up were relatively common. Urinary incontinence of various severity was reported by 47%, bowel habit urgency was reported by 44% (98/225), and loss of bowel control 'sometimes' or 'frequently' by 20% of women (46/226). No significant differences between instruments were found in terms of either bowel or urinary dysfunction. Overall, 13% (20/158) of children were noted to have visual problems. There was no significant difference in visual function between the two groups: ventouse 11/86 (12.8%), compared with forceps 9/72 (12.5%); odds ratio 0.97, 95% CI 0.38-2.50. Of the 20 children with visual problems, a family history was known in 18, and 17/18 (94%) had a positive family history for visual problems. No significant differences in child development were found between the two groups.
Conclusions: There is no evidence to suggest that at five years after delivery use of the ventouse or forceps has specific maternal or child benefits or side effects.