Wait it Out: Babies Born Before 39 Weeks Face Health Risks, Experts Warn

Filed under: In The News, Delivery, Expert Advice: Pregnancy, Expert Advice: Babies

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You plan your work schedules, your vacations, your children's playdates, your weekend entertainment and pretty much every other event in your life, so why should it come as a surprise that you want you want to schedule your baby's delivery, too?

The problem, NPR reports, is women are scheduling C-sections or being induced sometimes a few weeks before their baby's due date for reasons ranging from wanting their baby born on a specific date to just being sick and tired of being pregnant.

That's just not cool, experts tell the news source, pointing to studies that show infants who arrive before 39 weeks face a greater risk for health problems.

"It's now really well-documented in national studies that the risk of the baby having to require intensive care in a neonatal intensive care unit - even the risk of infant death - is increased when the baby is born as little as two weeks before the due date," Ed Donovan, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, tells NPR.

A woman's projected due date is can be two weeks off, according to the news source, meaning a baby born at 37 weeks may really only be 35 weeks along. Also, Donovan tells NPR, not all babies develop at the same rate.

"Just because the lungs are mature doesn't mean that the other organ systems are mature," he tells NPR. "A baby born three weeks early with mature lungs may not be ready to eat because the brain's not fully developed."

So the message here? As a current March of Dimes campaign states, "Healthy babies are worth the wait."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.