A Simple Sugar May Help Shorten Duration of Induced Labor

By Kristine Hartvigsen on June 21st, 2017

Delivering a baby is perhaps the most amazing physical feat a woman ever will achieve in her lifetime. Not unlike many sports, labor is intense and will test a woman’s pain threshold and endurance.

For decades, elite athletes have hydrated themselves with various performance drinks, such as Gatorade™, which contain salt, sugar, and water. The efficacy of sports drinks may have inspired Canadian researchers to apply the concept to childbirth.

Extremely prolonged labor can be dangerous both for mother and baby. So researchers with the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada, conducted a modest trial to test the impact of an intravenous solution of 5% glucose and saline on the duration of induced labor among first-time mothers.

Ultimately, they concluded that glucose supplementation significantly reduces the total length of active labor without increasing the rate of complication. They asserted that glucose “should be used as the default solute during labor.”

“We found that the median duration of labor was 76 minutes shorter in the group of women receiving glucose. There was no difference in the mode of delivery (cesarean section, forceps, etc.), or the neonatal well-being measures,” said Josianne Pare, MD, one of the study’s authors. “Glucose supplementation therefore significantly reduces the total length of labor without increasing the rate of complication. This is great news for women experiencing induced labor.” Dr. Pare presenting her findings at the Society of Maternal and Fetal Medicine annual meeting earlier this year.

SMFM colleagues acknowledged the potential advantages of shortening labor for first-time inductions, but some cautioned that women with preexisting conditions such as preeclampsia or heart issues should not receive high volumes of intravenous fluids. Reservations also were expressed regarding glucose supplementation of diabetic women.

"In patients with diabetes, supplementation with glucose would need to be titrated with insulin to prevent hyperglycemia in the mother, which can lead to hypoglycemia in the newborn after birth," Jeffrey Chapa, MD, director of maternal-fetal medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, told Medpage Today.

As with many early studies of various interventions, more research is needed before absolute conclusions can be drawn.

This blog provides general information and discussion about healthcare-related subjects. The content and linked materials provided are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader is an expectant mother with a medical concern, she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician or healthcare provider.


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