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Obstet Gynecol. 1991 Mar;77(3):465-70.

Vaginal birth after cesarean: a meta-analysis of morbidity and mortality.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sloane Hospital for Women, Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York.


The cesarean birth rate has continued to climb despite efforts to counteract it. A major reason for this rise is the practice of elective repeat cesarean. We conducted a meta-analysis that included 31 studies with a total of 11,417 trials of labor to evaluate the association between birth route after a cesarean and morbidity and mortality for the mother and infant. Summary odds ratios were calculated. Maternal febrile morbidity was significantly lower after a trial of labor than after an elective repeat cesarean. The intended birth route made no difference in the rates of uterine dehiscence or rupture. The use of oxytocin, presence of a recurrent indication for the previous cesarean, and presence of an unknown uterine scar were also unassociated with dehiscence or rupture. After excluding antepartum deaths, fetuses weighing less than 750 g, and congenital anomalies incompatible with life, we found no difference in perinatal death rates. The proportion of 5-minute Apgar scores of 6 or lower was higher after a trial of labor, but we were unable to exclude very low birth weight fetuses or those with congenital anomalies from this analysis. Our findings argue for trials of labor for more women after a cesarean birth.

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