To compare neurological outcomes among infants with open neural tube defects who underwent vaginal compared to caesarean delivery.
Eligible studies included observational or randomised studies comparing vaginal and caesarean delivery in pregnancies with fetal open neural tube defects who did not undergo prenatal repair.
Two reviewers independently reviewed abstracts and full text articles. Outcomes were compared between vaginal and caesarean delivery and prelabour caesarean versus labour. The primary outcome was motor-anatomic level difference. Secondary outcomes included shunt requirement, sac disruption, meningitis, and ambulation at 2 years. Meta-analysis was performed and mean difference or odds ratios with 95% confidence interval calculated.
Of 201 abstracts identified in the primary search, 9 studies (672 women) met eligibility criteria. Comparing vaginal and caesarean delivery, there was no significant difference in motor-anatomic level difference (mean difference -0.10, 95% CI -0.58-0.38; I2 =57%). The vaginal delivery group was less likely to require a shunt or have sac disruption (OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.14-0.95 and OR 0.46, 95% CI 0.23-0.90, respectively). Comparisons by prelabour caesarean versus labour showed no significant difference in motor-anatomic level difference (OR 1.29, 95% CI -0.63-3.21) or ambulation at 2 years (OR 2.13, 95% CI 0.35-13.12).
Caesarean delivery was not associated with improved neurological outcomes among fetuses with open neural tube defects 2).