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Induction is the act of causing or bringing on labor. Some women need to be induced because some babies clearly need to enter the world a little sooner than nature intended. But in recent years, induction by choice '- for convenience' sake '- has been on the rise.
In 2002, the rate of induction increased to 20.6 percent of all births, more than double the 1989 rate of 9 percent. It's no coincidence that the rate of cesarean delivery from 1989 to 2002 increased as well '- from 7 percent to 26.1 percent of all births, the highest rate ever reported in the United States. Studies have shown that induction of labor may increase the risk of cesarean delivery in women who have never borne children before.
In fact, fewer and fewer babies are born on Saturday or Sunday, due in part to the large number of scheduled cesareans but also to the fact that inductions are rarely performed on weekends. In 2002, there were 14.2 percent more births on Tuesday than on any other weekday.
It has been suggested that the increasing induction rates may be partly related to an increase in "elective" inductions '- inductions performed even though they're not medically necessary. In a study of variation in induction rates among hospitals and clinicians, 25 percent of inductions had no apparent medical indication. While higher induction rates are found in smaller or rural hospitals than in university or federally controlled hospitals, statistics show that it's better educated women with private medical insurance who are being induced.