A Meta-Analysis of Infant Outcomes After Breech Delivery

Published in: Obstetrics and Gynecology, v. 85, no. 6, June 1995, p. 1047-1054

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1994

by Deidre S. Gifford, Sally C. Morton, Mary Fiske, Katherine L. Kahn

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OBJECTIVE: To estimate the risks of neonatal morbidity and mortality associated with a trial of labor and with elective cesarean for the term breech infant. DATA SOURCES: Using the terms breech, malpresentation, and external cephalic version, the authors used MEDLINE and Health Planning and Administration data bases to search the English-language literature from January 1981 to June 1993. The search was supplemented with a review of the reference lists of key articles and text chapters. METHODS OF STUDY SELECTION: The authors included randomized trials or cohort studies that specified selection criteria for a vaginal delivery, provided detailed outcome data, and allowed for analysis by intended mode of delivery. DATA EXTRACTON AND SYNTHESIS: Nine studies met the inclusion criteria. The authors pooled the weighted results from these studies to estimate the risks of birth injuries and perinatal death, and the risk differences between trial of labor and no trial of labor groups. The pooled risk for any injury was 1.00% after a trial of labor and 0.09% after elective cesarean. For any injury or death, the risk was 1.23% after a trial of labor and 0.09% after elective cesarean. The risk differences for injury and injury or death were 0.89 and 1.10%, respectively. These are significantly different from zero, suggesting an increased risk of injury and injury or death after a trial of labor. CONCLUSION: When management decisions are made, the potential increased risk of neonatal morbidity after a trial of labor should be considered along with the increased maternal risk from cesarean delivery.

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