Babies born earlier may risk setbacks

May 21, 2006

More mothers are giving birth a few weeks shy of a full pregnancy, which could lead to health and developmental complications, a report says.

The Washington Post said so many babies are born before full term that the average pregnancy in the United States has shortened from 40 to 39 weeks.

The reasons for women giving birth earlier vary from medical to societal trends. More women are waiting until their thirties to have children, which puts them at more of a risk for needing labor intervention. Also, the availability of fertility treatments and medical advancements enable mothers to slow or speed up delivery, often in an effort to coordinate the birth so loved ones can be there, the Post said.

Although some obstetricians see earlier deliveries as a positive change -- a reduction in stillbirths and labor complications -- many doctors fear that this trend may lead to long-term developmental and behavioral setbacks.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Complications early in pregnancy or in previous pregnancies adversely affect existing or subsequent pregnancies

Related Stories

Preterm birth linked to lifelong health issues

March 25, 2008

The healthcare implications of being born premature are much broader and reach further into adulthood than previously thought, according to a long-term study of more than a million men and women by Duke University and Norwegian ...

Recommended for you

Roboticists learn to teach robots from babies

December 1, 2015

Babies learn about the world by exploring how their bodies move in space, grabbing toys, pushing things off tables and by watching and imitating what adults are doing.

Getting into the flow on the International Space Station

December 1, 2015

Think about underground water and gas as they filter through porous materials like soil and rock beds. On Earth, gravity forces water and gas to separate as they flow through the ground, cleaning the water and storing it ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.