University of Minnesota Finds Large Number of Women Choosing Elective Early Delivery of Their Infants

kbk_logoA new study led by Katy B. Kozhimannil, an assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, finds that elective early delivery of infants is becoming increasingly common. Elective early delivery can be done by cesarean section or by drugs that induce labor. According to the study, the main reason mothers choose elective early delivery is to avoid the large maternal weight gain associated with the last month of pregnancy.

The authors of the study found that 3 percent of all births in this country are the result of elective early delivery. This is about 120,000 births each year. Data shows that babies born as a result of elective early delivery are twice as likely as full-term babies to have respiratory distress and are 60 percent more likely to require additional hospital stays after delivery.

The data showed that White college-educated women over the age of 35 were the most likely to choose elective early delivery by labor induction. Black women with a college education were most likely to choose elective early delivery by cesarean section.

“There are misunderstandings about when a baby is ready to be born,” said Dr. Kozhimannil. “Since our findings show there are differences in who is having an early elective delivery, the importance of a full-term birth needs to be communicated to all women, not just those who may traditionally be considered high risk for elective procedure or high risk for poor outcomes.”

Dr. Kozhimannil is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. She holds a master of public administration degree from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in health policy from Harvard University.

The article, “Trends in Childbirth Before 39 Weeks’ Gestation Without Indication,” was published in the July 2014 issue of the journal Medical Care. The research may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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