Missionaries of the Sacred

Full-Term Pregnancy: How Many Weeks? PDF Print
Sunday, 29 May 2011 00:00

Babies born prematurely are at a higher risk of health issues than babies born at full term. In fact, disorders related to short gestation and low birthweight are one of the top three leading causes of infant mortality in the United States. But what does full-term really mean? Anywhere between 37 weeks and 41 weeks is considered full term, but a newly released study, published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, indicates that babies born between 37 and 39 weeks of gestation have a higher infant mortality rate than those born later (between 39 and 41 weeks). The study found that in 2006, the infant mortality rate for babies born at 40 weeks was 1.9 deaths for every 1,000 live births vs. 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births for babies born at 37 weeks.

It is important to note that the risk for both groups is relatively small, but the study may still have important implications for elective deliveries. For instance, some doctors and pregnant women schedule deliveries at 37 or 38 weeks for convenience, but this study suggests that it may be better to wait until 39 weeks (instead of 37) for such deliveries, provided that there is not a medical reason to deliver earlier.

Read the news article on the WebMD website: Study Gives New View of Full-Term Pregnancy