Objective: Pregnancies complicated by intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) are at increased risk for neonatal morbidity and mortality. The Dutch nationwide disproportionate intrauterine growth intervention trial at term (DIGITAT trial) showed that induction of labour and expectant monitoring were comparable with respect to composite adverse neonatal outcome and operative delivery. In this study we compare the costs of both strategies. Study design: A cost analysis was performed alongside the DIGITAT trial, which was a randomized controlled trial in which 650 women with a singleton pregnancy with suspected IUGR beyond 36 weeks of pregnancy were allocated to induction or expectant management. Resource utilization was documented by specific items in the case report forms. Unit costs for clinical resources were calculated from the financial reports of participating hospitals. For primary care costs Dutch standardized prices were used. All costs are presented in Euros converted to the year 2009. Results: Antepartum expectant monitoring generated more costs, mainly due to longer antepartum maternal stays in hospital. During delivery and the postpartum stage, induction generated more direct medical costs, due to longer stay in the labour room and longer duration of neonatal high care/medium care admissions. From a health care perspective, both strategies generated comparable costs: on average (sic)7106 per patient for the induction group (N = 321) and (sic)6995 for the expectant management group (N = 329) with a cost difference of (sic)111 (95%CI: (sic)-1296 to 1641). Conclusion: Induction of labour and expectant monitoring in IUGR at term have comparable outcomes immediately after birth in terms of obstetrical outcomes, maternal quality of life and costs. Costs are lower, however, in the expectant monitoring group before 38 weeks of gestation and costs are lower in the induction of labour group after 38 weeks of gestation. So if induction of labour is considered to preempt possible stillbirth in suspected IUGR, it is reasonable to delay until 38 weeks, with watchful monitoring.
- Expectant monitoring
- Induction of labour