Objectives: Pharmacological labor induction is obtained through prostaglandins application and/or oxytocin infusion; however, the use seems to be related to fetal and maternal side effects. Traditional Chinese Medicine advocates the use of acupuncture to soften the cervix and induce uterine contractions. at which presented for The primary outcome was the rate of women admitted for labour induction in case of prolonged pregnancy at 41 + 5 weeks, and the secondary outcome was the rate of induction planning for other indications.
Methods: After obtaining informed consent, 375 undelivered women after 40 + 2 gestational age were enrolled for the study: 112 women received acupuncture and 263, routine care. Acupuncture was applied every odd day starting from 40 + 2 weeks up to 41 + 4 weeks. Women allocated to the control group received standard care. At 41 + 5 weeks, a pharmacological induction was planned.
Results: The rate of labor induction significantly differed between acupuncture and observation groups (19.6% vs. 38%; p < 0.01); in particular, women receiving acupuncture showed a lower rate of induction, indicating prolonged pregnancy (5.3% vs. 10.1%; p < 0.01). As far as the pharmacological device is concerned, no differences were observed with regard to the prostaglandins use, whereas oxytocin infusion rate was lower in the acupuncture group than in the observation group.
Conclusions: The present study suggested that acupuncture applied at term of pregnancy seems to be effective in reducing the rate of labor induction which is performed for prolonged pregnancy at 41 + 5 weeks. Moreover, acupuncture also seems to be able to reduce oxytocin use; such a "saving" effect could play a role in childhood, considering that a recent study underlined the adverse effect of oxytocin on birth outcomes.
Keywords: Acupuncture; Labour induction; Post-date pregnancy.
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