Rising rates of labor induction: present concerns and future strategies

Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Jul;100(1):164-7. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(02)02047-1.


The rate of labor induction nationwide increased gradually from 9.5% to 19.4% between 1990 and 1998. Reasons for this doubling of inductions relate to widespread availability of cervical ripening agents, pressure from patients, conveniences to physicians, and litigious constraints. The increase in medically indicated inductions was slower than the overall increase, suggesting that induction for marginal or elective reasons has risen more rapidly. Data to support or refute the benefits of marginal or elective inductions are limited. Many trials of inductions for marginal indications are either nonexistent or retrospective with small sample sizes, thereby limiting definitive conclusions. Until prospective clinical trials can better validate reasons for the liberal use of labor induction, it would seem prudent to maintain a cautious approach, especially among nulliparous women. Strategies are proposed for developing evidence-based guidelines to reduce the presumed increase in health care costs, risk of cesarean delivery for nulliparas, and overscheduling in labor and delivery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Labor, Induced / standards
  • Labor, Induced / statistics & numerical data*
  • Labor, Induced / trends
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology