After increasing steadily for nearly two decades, a new CDC report notes a slight decline in induction of labor for single births for gestational age group. Although the declines are very modest, going from 23.7 percent in 2011 to 23.3 percent in 2012, the news is encouraging. Although delivery is medically necessary in some instances, delivery for a non-medical reason is not recommended before 39 weeks' gestation. Risks of labor induction can include increased risk of cesarean section and, in some cases, increased risk for neonatal infections and neonatal respiratory complications. Along with more emphasis on accurately determining gestational age, CDC has increased its efforts to help parents understand how waiting to induce labor could benefit a newborn's health.
The data also show induction rates at 38 weeks gestation declined for 36 states and the District of Columbia from 2006-2012, with declines ranging from 5 percent to 48 percent; rates for 31 states and D.C. declined at least 10 percent. It is important to maintain this downward momentum and helping parents understand when induction may not be appropriate. CDC works with professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine to update practice guidelines as more is learned about the risks and benefits of elective inductions. CDC also works with the March of Dimes campaign, "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait," which encourages parents to delay elective deliveries until 39 weeks gestation.