Elective cesarean sections are on the rise in many nations. Yet babies delivered this way can miss out on the hormones triggered by the onset of labor … and these hormones help newborns transition to air-breathing environments.

In turn, smooth transitions help preserve the postnatal bonding period, important for successful lactation and breastfeeding.

This is why scientists are exploring whether inducing mild labor with oxytocin before an elective CS triggers release of these hormones. Called the oxytocin challenge test, it is taking place with 1,450 women, at eight hospitals in Switzerland and Germany.

Details have just been published in this open access article in Neonatology (Improving Neonatal and Maternal Outcome by Inducing Mild Labor before Elective Cesarean Section: The Lacarus Randomized Controlled Trial).

“Given the current rates of elective CS and the excellent safety profile of OCT, the induction of mild contractions with oxytocin before elective CS may be a promising application … to improve neonatal and maternal outcomes,” write the principal investigators.

The Family Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation is supporting this study. If you would like to stay up to date on this and other news, please subscribe to our newsletter.