Even 'Full-Term' Babies Born at 37 Weeks Face Health Risks, Study Finds

Filed under: In The News, Delivery, Pregnancy Health

full term pregnancy

Waiting to deliver as long as possible significantly decreases risks for your newborn. Credit: Getty

Trust us, we know how excruciating that last month of pregnancy can be. We waddled on long walks, bounced on exercise balls and ate plenty of spicy food in hopes of coaxing that baby out early.

But a new study shows waiting to deliver as long as possible significantly decreases risks for your newborn, The New York Times reports.

Typically, when a pregnancy lasts 37 weeks, it's considered full-term, according to the newspaper, but a report from the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the March of Dimes shows a baby born in the 37th or 38th week has a higher risk of dying in his or her first year than a baby born after 39 weeks.

Published last week in Obstetrics & Gynecology, the study looked at more than 46 million babies born between 1995 and 2006 in the United States, The Times reports. In 2006, children born at 37 weeks had double the death rate in the first year of life (3.9 deaths per 1,000 births) than babies born at 40 weeks (1.9 deaths per 1,000 births).

Additionally, researchers report the number of babies born during that time period before 39 weeks rose from about one in three births to more than one in five births, according to the newspaper.

"Women need to know that all 'term' pregnancies are not alike," Dr. Uma M. Reddy, lead author of the study, tells The Times. "If the pregnancy is uncomplicated, babies should not be delivered before 39 weeks."

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