Toronto: Administering glucose supplements to women during childbirth, especially for the first birth, may shorten the labour time, researchers say.
A prolonged labour, or a failure to progress, is a labour that takes more than 20 hours for first-time mothers and more than 14 hours for mothers who have given birth before.
A prolonged labour is not only defined by the duration, it is regarded as prolonged but, when cervical dilation takes place at less than 1 centimetre per hour. Prolonged labour can be harmful to maternal and foetal health.
According to the study, because glucose supplementation is known to improve muscle performance, adding glucose to the intravenous hydration solution women receive during childbirth could accelerate labour.
"Glucose supplementation significantly reduces the total length of labour without increasing the rate of complication. This is great news for women experiencing induced labour," said Josianne Pare from the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada.
For the study, 200 pregnant women were randomly assigned to receive either a standard hydration solution containing salt and water or a solution containing glucose, salt and water.
The results showed that the median duration of labour was 76 minutes shorter in the group of women receiving glucose.
However, "there was no difference in the mode of delivery -- caesarean section, forceps, etc. -- or the neonatal well-being measures," Pare said.
Thus, being a low-cost and safe intervention, glucose should be the solute of choice during labour, the researchers recommended.
The findings will be presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, in Quebec.