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Health Agencies Update
May 17, 2000

An Unkind Cut?

JAMA. 2000;283(19):2514. doi:10.1001/jama.283.19.2514-JHA00003-4-1

Nearly one of four of cesarean deliveries performed for "lack of progress in labor" may be carried out too early during the birth process, according to a new study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Researchers found that up to 24% of the 294,000 cesarean deliveries performed annually in the United States for lack of progress were in women with a dilation of only 0 to 3 cm. This practice is contrary to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology's recommendation that the cervix be dilated to 4 cm or more before a diagnosis of lack of progress of labor.

The researchers suggested that physicians may be less comfortable with risks associated with abnormal labor than with those associated with cesarean deliveries. The study appeared in the April 1 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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