Induction of labor and risk of postpartum hemorrhage in low risk parturients

PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54858. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054858. Epub 2013 Jan 25.


Objective: Labor induction is an increasingly common procedure, even among women at low risk, although evidence to assess its risks remains sparse. Our objective was to assess the association between induction of labor and postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) in low-risk parturients, globally and according to its indications and methods.

Method: Population-based case-control study of low-risk women who gave birth in 106 French maternity units between December 2004 and November 2006, including 4450 women with PPH, 1125 of them severe, and 1744 controls. Indications for labor induction were standard or non-standard, according to national guidelines. Induction methods were oxytocin or prostaglandins. Multilevel multivariable logistic regression modelling was used to test the independent association between induction and PPH, quantified as odds ratios.

Results: After adjustment for all potential confounders, labor induction was associated with a significantly higher risk of PPH (adjusted odds ratio, AOR1.22, 95%CI 1.04-1.42). This excess risk was found for induction with both oxytocin (AOR 1.52, 95%CI 1.19-1.93 for all and 1.57, 95%CI 1.11-2.20 for severe PPH) and prostaglandins (AOR 1.21, 95%CI 0.97-1.51 for all and 1.42, 95%CI 1.04-1.94 for severe PPH). Standard indicated induction was significantly associated with PPH (AOR1.28, 95%CI 1.06-1.55) while no significant association was found for non-standard indicated inductions.

Conclusion: Even in low risk women, induction of labor, regardless of the method used, is associated with a higher risk of PPH than spontaneous labor. However, there was no excess risk of PPH in women who underwent induction of labor for non-standard indications. This raises the hypothesis that the higher risk of PPH associated with labor induction may be limited to unfavorable obstetrical situations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Labor, Induced / adverse effects*
  • Parturition*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Postpartum Hemorrhage / epidemiology*
  • Postpartum Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk*
  • Young Adult

Grant support

The project was funded by the French Ministry of Health under its Clinical Research Hospital Program (contract no.27-35) and the Caisse Nationale d‚Assurance Maladie (CNAMTS). IK was supported by a grant from l‚Institut de Recherche en Sant? Publique (IRESP). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.