Impact of Planned Delivery on the Perinatal Outcome of Term Fetuses with Isolated Heart Defects

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2022 Aug;44(8):901-907. doi: 10.1016/j.jogc.2022.03.022. Epub 2022 May 19.


Objective: Pregnancies complicated by fetal heart defects often undergo a planned delivery prior to term by either induction of labour or cesarean delivery to ensure optimal availability of neonatal care. We aimed to assess whether such planned deliveries achieve their goal of better perinatal care.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective case-control study of pregnancies complicated by isolated fetal cardiac defects, without other fetal comorbidities, managed at a single fetal medicine unit over a 10-year period. Only pregnancies delivered past 37 weeks gestation were included. Patients undergoing elective delivery for care planning reasons only were compared with patients in whom planned delivery was clinically indicated and patients who laboured spontaneously. Obstetric and perinatal outcomes were recorded.

Results: Of the 180 pregnancies included in the study, 59 (32.8%) were in the elective group, 49 (27.2%), in the indicated group, and 72 (40%), in the spontaneous group. Mean gestational age at delivery was 39.0 ± 1.1 weeks overall and did not differ between the groups. For the elective group, only 35.6% of deliveries occurred during office hours, which was similar to the 2 other groups. The rate of adverse obstetric or postnatal outcomes was not statistically significantly different between groups.

Conclusion: Timed delivery at term does not seem to be associated with an increased risk of poor perinatal outcomes. It may improve perinatal care by providing proximity to a neonatal intensive care unit and convenience for patients and providers.

Keywords: cesarean section; heart defects, congenital; infant mortality; labor, induced; obstetric delivery; respiratory distress syndrome, newborn.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cesarean Section
  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Gestational Age
  • Heart Defects, Congenital*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Parturition*
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies