Is planned vaginal delivery for breech presentation at term still an option? Results of an observational prospective survey in France and Belgium

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Apr;194(4):1002-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2005.10.817.


Objective: A large trial published in 2000 concluded that planned vaginal delivery of term breech births is associated with high neonatal risks. Because the obstetric practices in that study differed from those in countries where planned vaginal delivery is still common, we conducted an observational prospective study to describe neonatal outcome according to the planned mode of delivery for term breech births in 2 such countries.

Study design: Observational prospective study with an intent-to-treat analysis to compare the groups for which cesarean and vaginal deliveries were planned. Associations between the outcome and planned mode of delivery were controlled for confounding by multivariate analysis. The main outcome measure was a variable that combined fetal and neonatal mortality and severe neonatal morbidity. The study population consisted of 8105 pregnant women delivering singleton fetuses in breech presentation at term in 138 French and 36 Belgian maternity units.

Results: Cesarean delivery was planned for 5579 women (68.8%) and vaginal delivery for 2526 (31.2%). Of the women with planned vaginal deliveries, 1796 delivered vaginally (71.0%). The rate of the combined neonatal outcome measure was low in the overall population (1.59%; 95% CI [1.33-1.89]) and in the planned vaginal delivery group (1.60%; 95% CI [1.14-2.17]). It did not differ significantly between the planned vaginal and cesarean delivery groups (unadjusted odds ratio = 1.10, 95% CI [0.75-1.61]), even after controlling for confounding variables (adjusted odds ratio = 1.40, 95% CI [0.89-2.23]).

Conclusion: In places where planned vaginal delivery is a common practice and when strict criteria are met before and during labor, planned vaginal delivery of singleton fetuses in breech presentation at term remains a safe option that can be offered to women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Belgium
  • Breech Presentation*
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data
  • Data Collection
  • Delivery, Obstetric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies