Does Use of Low-Molecular-Weight Heparin during Pregnancy Influence the Risk of Prolonged Labor: A Population-Based Cohort Study

posted on 14.10.2015 by Anna Sandström, Sven Cnattingius, Anna-Karin Wikström, Olof Stephansson, Anastasia N. Iliadou


The use of low-molecular-weight heparins (LMWHs) during pregnancy is increasing. In vitro studies and small clinical studies support the hypothesis that LMWH treatment during pregnancy may reduce duration of labor. The aim of this study was to investigate if use of LMWH is associated with a reduced risk of diagnosis of prolonged labor, after taking maternal, fetal and other delivery characteristics into account.

Methods and Findings

A population-based cohort study from the Swedish Medical Birth Register from April 2006 through December 2011. We identified 514 875 term (≥37 weeks) deliveries of live singleton infants in cephalic presentation with spontaneous or induced onsets of labor. The Birth Register was linked to the Prescribed Drug Register to retrieve information on dispensed LMWH during pregnancy and to the Patient Register for information on underlying diagnosis for use of LMWH. Diagnosis of prolonged labor in the Birth Register was retrieved from diagnosis at discharge from the delivery hospital. The risk of diagnosis of prolonged labor in relation to treatment with LMWH was assessed using logistic regression analysis to estimate unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios. A total of 5 275 (1.0%) of the pregnant women used LMWH. The absolute risk of diagnosis of prolonged labor for nulliparous women was 19.9% among women using LMWH in third trimester, and 21.2% in women without use of LMWH. For parous women the corresponding absolute risks were 4.3% and 4.7%, respectively. Compared to nulliparous women without use of LMWH, nulliparous women with LMWH during third trimester had an odds ratio (OR) of 0.92 (95% CI 0.81–1.05, p-value: 0.051) for diagnosis of prolonged labor in unadjusted analyses and after adjustments for maternal characteristics, gestational age and epidural analgesia the OR was 1.00 (95% CI 0.87–1.15, p-value: 0.673). Parous women treated with LMWH in third trimester presented the same pattern, unadjusted OR for diagnosis of prolonged labor was 0.92 (95% CI 0.76–1.12, p-value: 0.418) and after adjustments OR was 0.99 (95% CI 0.80–1.22, p-value: 0.892). One limitation with the study was that information on prolonged labor was based on discharge diagnoses from the delivery hospital according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).


Treatment with LMWH during pregnancy is not associated with a risk of diagnosis of prolonged labor after adjustments for maternal, fetal and delivery characteristics.