Early Elective Childbirth May Raise Health Risks for Babies, Moms: Study12/20/13
FRIDAY, Dec. 20, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women who
choose to have an early delivery put themselves and their babies at
increased risk for complications, researchers warn.
A full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks, while an early-term pregnancy
is 37 weeks to 38 weeks and six days. In about 10 percent to 15
percent of all deliveries in the United States performed before 39
weeks, there is no good medical reason for the early delivery,
according to the researchers.
Illness and death rates "have increased in mothers and their
babies that are born in the early-term period compared to babies
born at 39 weeks or later. There is a need to improve awareness
about the risks associated with this," Dr. Jani Jensen, a Mayo
Clinic obstetrician and lead author of a review article on the
topic, said in a Mayo news release.
For newborns, the increased risks of elective early delivery
include breathing problems, feeding difficulties and conditions
such as cerebral palsy, according to the news release. These
complications can boost infants' chances of admission to the
neonatal intensive care unit.
Elective early delivery requires a pregnant woman to be induced,
which involves the use of medications or procedures to trigger
labor. This can lead to a prolonged labor in which infants need to
be delivered with instruments such as a forceps or a vacuum, which
may cause infection or bleeding complications, the researchers
There is also an increased risk of requiring a cesarean
delivery, and mothers could face more long-term surgical
complications, according to the article recently published in the
Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Public awareness campaigns and health care providers can help
raise awareness about the potential complications associated with
elective early delivery, Jensen said.
Some hospitals prohibit doctors from doing elective early
deliveries, and some insurers refuse to pay for early deliveries
performed without good medical reasons, the news release noted.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health explains why women should
let baby decide the delivery date.
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