HealthDay News — For women stimulated with intravenous oxytocin during the latent phase of induced labor, discontinuation of oxytocin in the active phase of labor may lead to a small increase in the rate of cesarean section but a decrease in fetal heart rate abnormalities, according to a study published online April 14 in The BMJ.

Sidsel Boie, MD, from Randers Regional Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues randomly assigned 1200 women from 9 hospitals in Denmark and 1 in the Netherlands, stimulated with intravenous oxytocin during the latent phase of induced labor, to have their oxytocin stimulation discontinued or continued in the active phase of labor (607 and 593 women, respectively).

The researchers found that the rates of cesarean section were 16.6 and 14.2% in the discontinued and continued groups, respectively (relative risk, 1.17; 95% confidence interval, 0.90 to 1.53). The cesarean section rate was 7.5 and 0.6% in the discontinued and continued groups, respectively, among 94 parous women with no previous cesarean section (relative risk, 11.6; 95% confidence interval, 1.15 to 88.7). Discontinuation correlated with a significantly longer duration of labor, reduced risk for hyperstimulation, and reduced risk for fetal heart rate abnormalities; similar rates of other adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes were seen between the groups.

“In a setting where monitoring of the fetal condition and the uterine contractions can be guaranteed, routine discontinuation of oxytocin stimulation may lead to a small increased risk of caesarean section but a significantly reduced risk of uterine hyperstimulation and abnormal fetal heart rate,” the authors write.


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