'Give birth within 42 weeks to reduce complications'

Researchers at Beersheba’s Soroka University Medical Center publish work in Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine.

January 17, 2013 04:14
1 minute read.
Mother holding baby

Mother and Baby. (photo credit: REUTERS/Erik de Castro)


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Elephants take 22 months, while mice and hamsters do it in 20 days.

But women should ideally give birth to their babies no later than the 42nd week, or they may be at risk for complications.

This was shown by researchers at Beersheba’s Soroka University Medical Center who have just published their work in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine.

A team from the hospital’s obstetrics and gynecology branch headed by Dr. Avi Harlev and Prof. Eyall Sheiner presented their findings recently at an international obstetrics and gynecology conference in Paris.

Human gestation usually comes to an end with labor and delivery at the 40th week. But a normal birth can also take place between the 37th and 42nd weeks, the Soroka researchers said. If it takes longer, the obstetrician has to decide to intervene rather than let nature take its course. Women are not always pleased with their doctors’ decisions because they want things to proceed naturally.

The researchers looked at women who gave birth between 37 and 40 weeks (term at 40); 40 and 42 weeks; and after 42 weeks. The meta-analysis examined the records of over 202,000 deliveries, of which nearly 10,000 were deliveries beyond term.

Analyzing all the factors, they concluded that risk of complications such as stillbirth were significant – 1.5 times the norm – after 42 weeks’ gestation.

Sheiner said the findings stress the importance of inducing labor if the baby has already reached term.

“There is no doubt that a careful follow- up and inducing birth can minimize critical complications such as stillbirth,” he said.

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