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Am J Perinatol. 2012 Feb;29(2):127-32. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1295653. Epub 2011 Nov 21.

Effect of obesity on length of labor in nulliparous women.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Virginia 23507, USA.


We compared the duration of labor among nulliparous women with varying body mass index (BMI). Laboring nulliparous women at >37 weeks were included. First visit BMI was used to categorize weight as normal (≤24), overweight (25 to 29.9), or obese (≥30 kg/m(2)). Chi-square, one-way analysis of variance, and Bonferroni multiple comparisons tests were used. During 15 months, 375 women met the inclusion criteria, and 38% were obese. Duration of first stage of labor was significantly longer for obese versus normal-weight women (26.76 ± 0.77 versus 23.87 ± 0.66 hours; p = 0.024) but not between normal versus overweight women (p = 1.00) or overweight versus obese women (p = 0.114). The cesarean delivery rate was significantly different in the three groups (p = 0.0001), highest among obese (47%) and lowest in normal-weight women (24%). When adjusted for age, hypertension, and induction, the likelihood of completing stage I was significantly less among obese nulliparous than those with BMI < 24 kg/m(2) (hazard ratio 0.73, 95% confidence intervals 0.54, 0.99). Compared with those with BMI < 24, the duration of stage I is significantly longer among obese women, even when adjusted for maternal age, induction, and hypertension.

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