As said by a research team, led by Alan T.N. Tita, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, women who choose to have their babies delivered via repeat cesarean at 37 or 38 weeks without a medical or obstetric indication, are up to two times more likely to have a baby with serious complications including respiratory distress.
For the study, the researchers examined 13,258 women who had elective repeat cesarean sections at the 19 centers of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units (MFMU) Network from 1999 to 2002.
The 13,258 women studied were those who underwent an elective cesarean of a viable infant at 37 weeks gestation or later in the absence of labour or other obstetric or medical indications for early cesarean delivery (prior to 39 weeks).
The researchers looked at whether an infant who was delivered at 37 weeks later died or was diagnosed with complications.
Of the 13,258 women who had elective repeat cesarean sections, as many as 35.8 percent were delivered before 39 weeks.
The researchers found that babies born at 37 weeks, were two times more likely to suffer with conditions common to babies born too soon, and at 38 weeks, they were one and a half times more likely.
Tita said these findings highlight the importance of not delivering a baby before 39 weeks for the sake of convenience.
"Unfortunately, these early deliveries are associated with a preventable increase in neonatal morbidity and NICU admissions, which carry a high personal and economic cost. These findings support recommendations to delay elective delivery until 39 weeks gestation and should be helpful in counseling women on the necessity of waiting to deliver," New England Journal of Medicine quoted Tita, as saying.