Mothers should try to go to full term in their pregnancies, but many are unaware of the risks of early delivery, UK study finds

Illustration by Michelle Kumata via KRT

Babies who are born before the full term of 40 weeks may have health problems later in life, since important brain development takes place in the very last stages of pregnancy. As such, mothers should try to avoid being induced early or having elective C-sections.

A study conducted at the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information found women often don’t realize the important development that takes place at the end of pregnancy, write UK doctoral student Sarah Vos and H. Dan O’Hair, dean of the college, for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Evidence shows that early, elective births are expensive. One study found reducing the number of elective births before 39 weeks of gestation to less than 2 percent of all U.S. births would save $1 billion each year.

But many women are uncomfortable at the end of their pregnancy, are anxious to know their children are healthy, and may even ask for early induction of labor because employers aren’t flexible about time off. Sometimes doctors and other providers induce women early for their convenience.

Encouraging women to go full term and telling them the disadvantages of early labor — problems feeding and a higher incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome — can influence their decision. As Vos and O’Hair conclude, “Babies are worth the wait.” (Read more)

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