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Friday, October 20, 2006

Drug Induced Labor Raises Risk Of Amniotic-fluid Embolism

Amniotic-fluid embolism (AFE) is a rare, but potentially fatal syndrome during childbirth. According to a study published in The Lancet, women whose labors are drug-induced are twice as likely to experience this complication.

Nevertheless, the risk is still small, even if the labor is induced, say doctors. One has to weigh the risk of an AFE after inducing labor, against having to perform an emergency C-section by not inducing it.

A study, carried out by researchers at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, found that out of 180 women with AFE, 24 died. Out of every 100,000 induced labors, five develop embolism, of which about 20% to 40% die, the study found. Women are more likely to have an induced labor if they suffer from diabetes, pre-eclampsia, are older and require a c-section, forceps or vacuum.

The researchers estimated that induction could be causing about thirty to forty women in the USA to have AFE each year. One fifth of all births in the United States are induced.

The researchers said that even though the risk is still small, doctors and patients should be aware of it if the decision to induce is elective.

What is Amniotic-fluid embolism (AFE)?

Amniotic fluid, foetal cells and other debris enters the bloodstream of the mother from the placenta. This causes a serious allergic response, resulting in cardiorespiratory collapse.

"Amniotic-fluid embolism and medical induction of labour: a retrospective, population-based cohort study"
Dr, Prof Michael S Kramer MD,Jocelyn Rouleau, Prof Thomas F Baskett MB, and KS Joseph MD
The Lancet 2006; 368:1444-1448
Click here to see summary online

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today


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