Elective Early-Term Deliveries Increase Risk of Complications

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fetusAlthough it has become common practice these days for women to have an elective, early-term delivery in lieu of waiting on the natural labor process, the choice can mean increasing complications instead of alleviating them. In spite of the aches, pains and other symptoms that cause discomfort during the last part of pregnancy, speeding up the delivery to relieve symptoms can cause complications to both the mother and the newborn when early, elective delivery is initiated.

Researches from the Mayo Clinic recently published an article in the scientific journal, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, which addressed the dangers of this new and quickly growing practice. Full-term pregnancies are considered to be those at 37 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period. A pregnancy that lasts 39 weeks or more is deemed “full-term,” while a pregnancy that is 37 weeks to 38 weeks and six days is considered to be “early-term.” Today, there are 10 to 15 percent of deliveries being performed before the 39th week of gestation, without any medical indication that it is necessary.

According to the Mayo Clinic article, morbidity and mortality rates have increased for both mothers and babies who have been born during the early-term period, in comparison with those that are born at 39 weeks or later. Newborns are at a greater risk of respiratory and feeding difficulties, in addition to problems such as cerebral palsy, although the overall risk for this is low. These numbers can also result in higher rates of admission to neonatal intensive care units.

Part of the problem is that pregnant women require medication when labor is induced. This can result in prolonged labor and more difficult deliveries that may lead to infection or severe bleeding. Cesarean deliveries also lead to more complications. Dr. Jani Jensen, an obstetrician and lead author of the study, believes it is important to increase public awareness to the complications that this practice can cause. Although scheduling delivery of your baby like you make a hair appointment might seem like a more convenient and less painful way to have your baby, the end result could be a lot less healthy and more problematic.

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