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Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2001 Oct;98(2):186-92.

Planned vaginal delivery versus elective caesarean section in singleton term breech presentation: a study of 1116 cases.

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Department of Obstetrics, Claude Bernard University, Hôtel Dieu Hospital, School of Medicine, Lyon, France.



To compare neonatal and maternal morbidity and mortality between planned vaginal delivery and elective cesarean section for singleton term breech presentation.


We studied retrospectively all deliveries of singleton breech presentations at term in the public Hospitals of Lyon between 1 January 1991 and 31 December 1995. To take only the effect of delivery on the fetus into account, we eliminated high risk pregnancies and fetal malformations. Fetal parameters were corrected perinatal mortality, Apgar score<7 at 1 and 5 min, umbilical cord arterial pH<7.15, neurological disorders, trauma and need for neonatal intensive care. Maternal parameters were mild, moderate and severe complications.


Of the 1116 breech presentations, 702 (62.9%) underwent an elective caesarean section and 414 (37.1%) a planned vaginal delivery. In the latter group, 342 (30.6%) had a vaginal delivery and 72 (6.5%) a non-elective caesarean section. Infants for whom the vaginal route was planned were at higher risk of mortality and morbidity. There were 2 deaths in this group and none in the elective caesarean section group and all fetal parameters were poorer: more Apgar<7 at 5 min (RR: relative risk=3.05; 1.03-9.05), arterial pH<7.15 (RR=1.64; 1.11-2.43), intubations (RR=7.35; 2.10-25.6), neurological disorders, trauma (RR=4.24; 1.66-10.8), transfer to intensive care units (RR=3.23; 1.57-6.64). The overall maternal morbidity was lower in the planned vaginal delivery group (RR=0.65; 0.44-0.94) but this was only because of less mild complications. The moderate and severe complications were the same in the two groups (RR=0.97; 0.59-1.57).


Planned vaginal delivery in singleton term breech presentation increases the risk of death and of neonatal complications. Elective caesarean section increases the risk of only mild maternal complications. For these reasons, elective caesarean section should be preferred for singleton term breech presentations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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