Effects of elective induction of labor on the intellectual development of three- through five-year-old children
White, Lauretta Vierus
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Elective induction refers to the voluntary initiation of labor when no medical or obstetrical reasons necessitate it. It was the purpose of this study to investigate the effects of elective induction on the intellectual development of young children and to determine if there was any difference between children whose birth was electively induced and children whose birth was spontaneous. The children, who were matched on the basis of age, sex, socioeconomic background, obstetrical history of the mother, maternal age, and parity, were tested on the Merrill-Palmer Scale of Mental tests. It was also of interest to search for differences in birth weight, length of labor, Apgar scores, and motor and verbal abilities between these two groups of children. The subjects in this study were 16 electively induced children and 16 matched control children who were born at either John Sealy Hospital or St. Mary's Hospital in Galveston, Texas during the period from September, 1960 through May, 1963. All subjects were normal, full term (i.e., over 2,500 grams) Caucasian babies. At the time of testing the children ranged from three through five years in age. Chi square tests of significance were calculated on the data. There was no significant difference in I.Q. scores on the Merrill-Palmer Scale of Mental tests between children who had been electively induced and children whose birth was spontaneous. Neither was there any significant difference in birth weight, length of labor, Apgar scores, and motor and verbal abilities among these children. There was a definite tendency for the child delivered after short induced labor to be brighter than the child delivered after short spontaneous labor; the difference, however, was not statistically significant in the present study which was handicapped by the small sample size. The results of this study suggest that elective induction of labor does not increase the risk of developmental, and intellectual deficits when the infant is mature and full term and under these conditions, elective induction is a safe and useful obstetrical procedure.