Purpose: To evaluate whether a trial of planned vaginal breech labor affects neurologic development in children.
Methods: This is a nationwide, Finnish, population-based record linkage study. An odds ratio with 95% confidence intervals was used to estimate the relative risk that a child delivered by planned vaginal breech labor would be diagnosed with adverse neurodevelopmental outcome (cerebral palsy, epilepsy, intellectual disability, sensor neural developmental outcome, hyperactivity, speech and language problems) at the age of 4 years. The reference group were children born by planned cesarean section.
Results: During a study period of 7 years, 8374 infants were delivered in breech position. Among them, 3907 (46.7%) had an attempted labor and 4467 (53.3%) infants were delivered by planned cesarean section. There were no differences in the neurodevelopmental outcome. In the planned vaginal labor group, 133 (3.4%) children had an abnormal neurodevelopmental outcome at the age of 4 years compared to 142 (3.2%) in the planned cesarean section group.
Conclusion: The absolute risk of abnormal neurological outcome in breech deliveries at term was low, regardless of planned mode of birth. Planned vaginal breech labor did not increase the risk for abnormal neurological outcome compared to planned cesarean section.
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