The ARRIVE Trial: another perspective

An American obstetrician has offered further insight into the results of the controversial ARRIVE Trial. This study considered early induction of labour for healthy women.

In a letter written to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Andrew Scialli, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at George Washington University School of Medicine, offers the following thought:

“The studies in this area are limited by the expectant management group being managed by modern obstetricians, whose inclination for intervention may be higher than is optimal. Larger babies mean longer labors, which may tax the patience of the modern obstetricians, and preeclampsia is alarming to some practitioners who may not be willing to stabilize the patient and wait for the uterus to respond to oxytocin. As gestation advances, there may be less amniotic fluid with consequent benign variable decelerations that are over-interpreted as fetal hypoxemia.” (Scialli 2019).

This trial and many other induction research studies are discussed in my book. In Your Own Time was written to help parents and professionals better understand the issues and the evidence relating to the current induction epidemic. Looks at the evidence relating to due dates, ‘post-term’, older and larger women, suspected big babies, maternal race and more.

What an important point. And one which illustrates how vital it is not just to look at the results of research but at the wider context of research and practice. It’s also important to consider the way in which evidence is generated and the belief systems of those who undertake and participate in such research.

I have to declare a bit of a bias towards such a viewpoint here. I wrote something a bit similar in Inducing Labour: making informed decisions, where I noted that,

“just as Michel Odent once observed that all we could really learn from the Canadian term breech trial was that having “a breech birth in a conventional hospital and in the presence of an obstetrician is dangerous” (Odent 2003: 11), we might consider that the reviews which claimed to show that induction reduces the chance of caesarean teach us that awaiting spontaneous labour while in the care of an obstetrician may increase the risk of being advised to have a caesarean section, which may or may not have been genuinely warranted.” (Wickham 2018).

Scialli’s suggested solution was a careful review of why the caesareans were done. This is not dissimilar to the work done by Menticoglou and Hall (2002) who questioned a policy of routine induction several years ago. It is clear that we need randomised controlled trials in order to evaluate the effects of an intervention. But we also need clear thinking and other types of analysis in order to put those results into a wider context and determine whether or not they have relevance for the individual woman in front of us. And then, it’s up to her to make the decision that is right for her.

Scialli happily claims to be an obstetrician of a certain vintage. He concludes by adding that, “The current high induction and cesarean rates in modern obstetrics have not given us better babies, and we would do well to be concerned about effects on maternal morbidity and mortality.” (Scialli 2019).

Thank goodness for those who can offer a wider perspective.


Menticoglou SM and Hall PF (2002).  Routine induction of labour at 41 weeks gestation: nonsensus consensus.  BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 109(5): 485-91.

Scialli AR, Induction of Labor at Term, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (2019), doi:

Want to stay up to date and get regular updates on birth-related research and thinking sent free to your inbox?

Sign up to my newsletter list.

Books to help you become informed and make the decisions that are right for you…

If this blog post or any of my work has helped you or those you care for, please buy me a coffee and help me continue to provide independent birth information online as well as in my books.

Thank you 💜