Risk of cesarean delivery with elective induction of labor at term in nulliparous women

Obstet Gynecol. 1999 Oct;94(4):600-7. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(99)00377-4.


Objective: To quantify the risk of cesarean delivery associated with elective induction of labor in nulliparous women at term.

Methods: We performed a cohort study on a major urban obstetric service that serves predominantly private obstetric practices. All term, nulliparous women with vertex, singleton gestations who labored during an 8-month period (n = 1561) were divided into three groups: spontaneous labor, elective induction, and medical induction. The risk of cesarean delivery in the induction groups was determined using stepwise logistic regression to control for potential confounding factors.

Results: Women experiencing spontaneous labor had a 7.8% cesarean delivery rate, whereas women undergoing elective labor induction had a 17.5% cesarean delivery rate (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.89; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.12, 3.18) and women undergoing medically indicated labor induction had a 17.7% cesarean delivery rate (OR 1.69; 95% CI 1.13, 2.54). Other variables that remained significant risk factors for cesarean delivery in the model included: epidural placement at less than 4 cm dilatation (OR 4.66; 95% CI 2.25, 9.66), epidural placement after 4 cm dilatation (OR 2.18; 95% CI 1.06, 4.48), chorioamnionitis (OR 4.61; 95% CI 2.89, 7.35), birth weight greater than 4000 g (OR 2.59; 95% CI 1.69, 3.97), maternal body mass index greater than 26 kg/m2 (OR 2.36; 95% CI 1.61, 3.47), Asian race (OR 2.35; 95% CI 1.04, 5.34), and magnesium sulfate use (OR 2.18; 95% CI 1.04, 4.55).

Conclusion: Elective induction of labor is associated with a significantly increased risk of cesarean delivery in nulliparous women. Avoiding labor induction in settings of unproved benefit may aid efforts to reduce the primary cesarean delivery rate.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Labor, Induced / statistics & numerical data*
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors