Elective caesarean section versus expectant management for delivery of the small baby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

60 Citations (Scopus)



Elective caesarean delivery for women in labour with a small or immature baby might reduce the chances of fetal or neonatal death, but it might also increase the risk of maternal morbidity.


To assess the effects of a policy of elective caesarean delivery versus expectant management for small babies.

Search methods

We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (27 January 2009).

Selection criteria

Randomised trials comparing a policy of elective caesarean delivery versus expectant management with recourse to caesarean section.

Data collection and analysis

One review author assessed eligibility and trial quality.

Main results

Six studies involving 122 women were included. All trials reported recruiting difficulties. Babies in the elective group were less likely to have respiratory distress syndrome (odds ratio (OR) 0.43, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.18 to 1.06) although they were more likely to have a low cord pH immediately after delivery (OR 10.82, 95% CI 1.60 to 73.24). They were less likely to have neonatal seizures (0/39 versus 2/42) and there were fewer deaths (2/62 versus 6/60) but these differences did not reach statistical significance. However, their mothers were more likely to have serious morbidity (OR 6.44, 95% CI 1.48 to 27.89).

Authors' conclusions

There is not enough evidence to evaluate the use of a policy for elective caesarean delivery for small babies. Randomised trials in this area are likely to continue to experience recruitment problems. However, it still may be possible to investigate elective caesarean delivery in small babies with cephalic presentations.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD000078
Number of pages44
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2001


Cite this