Vacuum assisted deliveries are a safe alternative to forceps deliveries, despite a warning by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1998 that vacuum assisted deliveries may result in fatal complications, say researchers in this week's BMJ.
They compared the risk of death and birth injuries between vacuum extraction and forceps deliveries for over 11 million singleton live births in the United States.
The overall risk of death and birth injuries were similar between infants delivered by vacuum or by forceps, suggesting that vacuum extraction is at least as safe as forceps. Furthermore, the relatively low rates of fatal complications among vacuum deliveries argue against the FDA warning, say the authors.
Encouraging instrumental vaginal deliveries may help to reduce the rates of caesarean section. Although delivery by vacuum extraction does have risks, it remains a safe alternative to forceps delivery.
These results also underscore the need for obstetric standards in performing instrumental deliveries, they conclude.