In the past 20 years, the proportion of induced births in Norway has doubled, according to figures from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Norwegian Institute of Public Health:
Induced births have doubled in 20 years

In the past 20 years, the proportion of induced births in Norway has doubled, from under 14 per cent in 2004 to now almost 30 per cent of all births, according to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

The purpose of inducing labour after the due date is to prevent foetal deaths, writes the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) (link in Norwegian).

The proportion of inductions after 40 weeks of gestation, which is full term, has risen from 15.2 per cent in the period 2004–2009 to 28.1 per cent in the period 2019–2023.

“In Norway, nearly 8,000 women pass week 41 and go into labour naturally. If these 8,000 women were to be induced as well, over 40 per cent of all pregnancies in Norway would be induced,” says researcher and chief physician Ferenc Macsali at NIPH.

Considerations for mother and child

In some pregnancies, there is a need to induce labour before the body is ready due to considerations for the mother or child.

Women with pre-eclampsia, diabetes, or other illnesses should be induced before the due date, according to national guidelines. This also applies to pregnancies where the foetus does not grow as expected.

At the same time, more induced births can lead to more caesarean sections or operative vaginal deliveries. There is also a higher proportion of women who experience significant bleeding.

“If more women are to be induced than current guidelines indicate, it will lead to a greater workload for already strained maternity wards,” says Macsali.

The age of first-time mothers is not increasing

For the first time in a long time, the age of first-time mothers in Norway is not increasing. The average age in 2023 remained at 30.2 years, the same as in 2022.

“The age of first-time mothers has increased slightly every year for the past 14 years. It’s positive that it’s not rising this year,” says chief physician Liv Cecilie Vestrheim Thomsen at NIPH (link in Norwegian).

The overall average age for all women giving birth, however, continues to increase, reaching 31.8 years in 2023.

“The increase in age among all mothers overall is due to older ages among women having their second, third, or fourth children,” she says.

Fewer twins

There are also fewer women giving birth to twins in Norway in the past 20 years. Last year, 715 women gave birth to twins, which represents only 1.4 per cent of all births in Norway.

Especially in Møre and Romsdal, in Western Norway, and in Nordland, twin births have declined. In 2023, 40 per cent fewer twins were born compared to 10 years ago.

According to NIPH, this is likely due to a decline in the number of twin births following assisted fertilisation (IVF). Whereas multiple eggs were previously inserted to increase the chances of conception, only one has been inserted in recent years.


Translated by Alette Bjordal Gjellesvik

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