Staying in the womb until 39 weeks of gestation can make a big difference in a baby's life.
Thankfully, that discovery is making its way into the everyday practice of medicine, according to papers presented at the recent meeting in New Orleans of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Almost two-thirds of the country's hospitals with a registered labor and delivery unit have put policies in place to discourage births before 39 weeks, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Researchers contacted all 2,641 U.S. hospitals with LD departments, and heard back from 2,367 of them. Two thirds of responding hospitals have such a policy.
Sixty-nine percent of those reported that they strictly enforced the policy, the study's authors reported. More than half (53%) of the hospitals that do not have a policy in place to discourage births before 39 weeks said "not medically indicated births" before term went against their standard of care.
In March, ACOG reminded physicians and hospitals that babies should not be delivered before 39 weeks gestation without a good medical reason. Serious ealth risks, and even higher mortality rates, have been established for babies born even in the 37th and 38th weeks of gestation.
The results of the Penn study "show that most hospitals do recognize the issues with early elective delivery, or non-medically indicated delivery prior to 39 weeks, and are adopting policies to prevent the practice,” said Nathaniel G. DeNicola, MD, Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at Perelman, and lead author on the study.
Pregnant Graffiti by Petteri Sulonen