Clinical Edge

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False Labor at Term & Adverse Perinatal Outcomes

Obstet Gynecol; ePub 2017 Jun 6; Nelson, et al

Women with false labor at term discharged from an obstetric triage unit after a standardized assessment were not at increased risk of adverse perinatal outcomes or cesarean delivery, a recent study found. The prospective observational cohort study included women at 37 0/7 to 41 6/7 weeks of gestation without pre-existing medical complications. Women diagnosed as having false labor with a live singleton fetus in cephalic presentation without a prior cesarean delivery and sent home were compared with a group of similar women diagnosed to be in spontaneous labor between October 2012 and March 2016. Researchers found:

  • 3,949 women met inclusion criteria and were diagnosed with false labor, discharged, and returned to deliver; 2,592 similar women were admitted in early labor.
  • Mean interval from discharge to return was 4.9 days.
  • Cesarean rates did not differ between the groups, while perinatal composite outcome rates were not significantly different between those sent home and those admitted.
  • The time interval to return for delivery was significantly associated with the cervical dilatation at discharge.


Nelson DB, McIntire DD, Leveno KJ. False labor at term in singleton pregnancies. [Published online ahead of print June 6, 2017]. Obstet Gynecol. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000002069.