Vaginal delivery versus caesarean section in preterm breech delivery: a systematic review

Published:October 21, 2013DOI:


      There is controversy on the preferred mode of delivery (vaginal delivery (VD) versus caesarean section (CS)) in preterm breech delivery in relation to neonatal outcome. While CS is supposed to be safer for the fetus, arguments against CS can be the increased risk of maternal morbidity, risks for future pregnancies, and costs. Moreover, neonatal respiratory distress syndrome occurs more frequently after CS compared to VD.
      In the past, several RCTs have been started on this subject, but they were all preliminary and stopped due to recruitment difficulties. As the Cochrane review of these RCT's reported on 116 women only, knowledge on the effectiveness of CS and VD can at present only be obtained from non-randomized studies.
      We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of non-randomized studies that assessed the association between mode of delivery and neonatal mortality in women with preterm breech presentation. We searched Pubmed, Embase and the Cochrane library for articles comparing neonatal mortality after VD versus CS in preterm breech presentation (gestational age 25+0 till 36+6 weeks). Seven studies, involving a total of 3557 women, met the eligibility criteria and were included in this systematic review. The weighted risk of neonatal mortality was 3.8% in the CS group and 11.5% in the VD group (pooled RR 0.63 (95% CI 0.48–0.81)). We conclude that cohort studies indicate that CS reduces neonatal mortality as compared to VD.


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