Even though inducing labor is one of the most common medical procedures in the world, it is still really expensive and until recently, doctors are still unsure as to which technique works best. To put that in perspective, almost one-quarter of women who deliver in the United States — nearly 1 million — have an induced labor every year.
Imagine a medical procedure experienced by 1 million men each year and those in charge of medical research saying, “nah, there’s no need to figure out which method is most efficient, they’ll be fine.” That’s right, you can’t.
The fact that it has taken so long is hardly surprising. So many aspects of women’s health — from period pain to heart disease — have been traditionally overlooked in medical research. After all, if men don’t have to go into labor, what’s the point of spending money to figure out how to make the process easier? (Using that logic, shouldn’t they be concerned about the baby boys being born via induced labor? No?)
The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania oversaw the largest-ever clinical trial of methods for inducing labor, which involved 500 women. The women — who all needed to have an induced labor — were given one of four different commonly used methods for induction. They found that the average time between treatment and delivery for a drug/catheter combination was the shortest of any of the methods, and could potentially result in saving 2.4 million hours of labor each year.
So why does this matter? Shorter labors mean less time for potential complications and for the mother to be in pain, resulting in better outcomes for the mother and child. If that’s not reason enough, yes — it can also reduce hospital costs.
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