When a pregnant woman’s membranes rupture between the 34th and 37th week of gestation, labor is often induced to reduce the risk of fetal infection and/or breathing problems. According to a research study presented at the annual Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine meeting, inducing labor does not impact the risk of infection or breathing problems.

During the course of the study, researchers evaluated more than 700 women who presented with a premature rupture of membranes between weeks 34 and 37 of gestation. The trial was made possible through partnerships between 60 hospitals.
After 24 hours, the women were evaluated and placed in one of two study groups. In the first group, labor was induced. The second group was privy to expectant management. Expectant management involves watching the patient closely without advanced medical interaction or treatment. The patients in the expectant management group delayed delivery by 3.5 days, on average.

Data on the health of the infant after delivery was used to determine the effect of expectant management versus induced labor. According to infant health records, about 3.6-percent of infants in the expectant management group suffered neonatal infection. The infection rate was comparable to the infection rate in the induction group. There were also comparable rates of C-section deliveries and breathing problems between the two groups.

According to David van der Ham MD, “Our research indicates that in patients who underwent close monitoring, known as expectant management, versus those whose labor was induced, there was no difference in the risk for infection in the newborn, breathing problems in the newborn or cesarean section rates.”

Source: David van der Ham MD, Jantien van der Heijden, Hans van Beek, Brent Opmeer, Christine Willekes, Jan Nijhuis, Twan Mulder, Rob Moonen, Marielle van Pampus, Mariet Groenewout, Gerald Mantel, Anneke Kwee, Hajo Wildschut, Bettina Akerboom, Ben Mol. Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. February 2012.