(HealthDay News) — After two decades of steady increases, the number of U.S. infants born early due to induced labor has declined in recent years, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rates of induced labor declined across the board since 2006 for expectant mothers at 35–38 weeks of gestation, with the greatest decline at 38 weeks, researchers with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) found. The rate of induced labor more than doubled between 1990–2010, from nearly 10% of births to just under 24%. Since 2010, the overall rate of induced labor has slightly declined, to 23.7% in 2011 and 23.3% in 2012, according to the report published in the June NCHS Data Brief.
The investigators found that induction rates varied widely based on race, ethnicity and locale. For example, induction rates fell 19% for white mothers, but only 7% for Hispanics and 3% for black mothers. Declines in labor induction occurred in nearly three out of four states, ranging from 5% in Maryland to 48% in Utah. Rates increased in Alaska, New York and North Carolina, and remained unchanged in 11 states.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists doesn’t recommend induced deliveries prior to 39 weeks of pregnancy without a clear medical reason.