Babies Born at 37-38 Weeks Have a Higher Chance of Death in Early Infancy

Boy, did this headline catch my attention! In recent years there have been several important studies published that document the increased risks to late pre-term babies. At a news conference in California this week, Dr. Michael Kramer of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research reported on the increased risks to babies that are born at 37 to 38 weeks gestation. The study was based on cognitive testing of 18,000 children at the age of 6.5 years. Researchers found that babies born at 37 or 38 weeks have higher chances of dying during their early infancy and have slightly lower IQ scores compared to those born one or two weeks later. The findings are troubling because an increasing number of births are induced after 37 or 38 weeks of pregnancy, said Dr. Kramer. “Most doctors and mothers think that, once you reach 37 weeks, all is fine” – Dr. Michael Kramer. But Dr. Kramer and his research associate, Seungmi Yang, have found evidence that those extra weeks can make a difference. When presenting the risks of elective induction to childbirth classes, childbirth educators can show students the remarkable brain growth that occurs between 35 and 41 weeks gestation (see New Teaching Aid, May 4th post). This new study is certainly more evidence supporting the wisdom of letting labor begin on its own. Read more about it.

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