Dr. Laura M. Glynn
The rate of nonindicated cesarean births is increasing each year within the United States. Although cesarean delivery can function as a life- saving intervention, emerging evidence suggests that it may also be associated with deleterious developmental consequences for the child. Here we test the hypothesis that mode of delivery is associated with cognitive development during infancy. 229 pregnant women were recruited and their infants’ cognitive development was assessed at 6, 12 and 24 months with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. Medical charts were reviewed by obstetric nurses to determine prenatal medical risk and birth outcomes, including mode of delivery. Infants who were delivered vaginally (n = 163) exhibited better performance on the mental development index of the Bayley at 6, 12, and 24 months (M= 98.56, 96.20, and 98.79 respectively) compared to those delivered by cesarean (n =66 ; M= 94.38, 89.64, 90.83 respectively; all F’s > 7.97 and all p’s < .005). These group differences remained even after consideration of potential covariates and third variable explanations in ANCOVA models including: 1. Whether the birth was spontaneous or induced 2. Length of gestation 3. A range of demographic factors including maternal age, socioeconomic status and postpartum depressive symptoms. The benefits of cesarean delivery when medically indicated are undisputed. However, these findings suggest that in the case of nonindicated cesarean delivery, practitioners should carefully consider the potential short and long-term costs and benefits of this intervention.
Olson, Madison and Glynn, Laura M., "Mode of Delivery and Infant Cognitive Development" (2020). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 396.