Statistics from the March of Dimes has shown that U.S pregnancy duration is getting to be typically 39 weeks, instead of 40 weeks, which is a week shorter than what it was ten years ago. This advancement in the pregnancy term period is attributed to better capabilities in fetal monitoring, that has given rise to medically assisted deliveries. As a result there are fewer stillbirths, delivery-related deaths, and delivery-related medical problems.
Nancy Green, Medical director of MD feels, there is widespread concern that some of the medically assisted births have resulted in early deliveries that are not medically justified. According to her, babies born before term face an enhanced risk of jaundice, inadequate brain development, feeding difficulties and temperature regulation problems.
"Late preterm infants are a growing concern" she says. "We would like to see more medically uncomplicated births go to term
According to Green, 'More and more women who give birth are overweight or obese. These women have a much higher rate of complications like diabetes and hypertension, which can lead to earlier births.'
Epidemiologist David Savitz, PhD, a professor of community and preventive medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, has tracked pre-term delivery trends for a pretty long time. In his opinion, early deliveries make a sensible option, more-so since risks are not clear at the clinical level. He said 'When you look at large populations there are small but very real increases in the risk of adverse outcomes for those 34-, 35- and 36-week babies, but it may be something that an individual clinician never sees. If there is a major problem being prevented then early delivery is absolutely justified. But it is important for both the clinician and patient to be aware that this risk exists.'