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29th May 2021

Health experts argue ALL women should be induced when they reach 41 weeks

Trine Jensen-Burke

ALL women should be induced when they reach 41 weeks

To cut the risks of stillbirth or complications.

Very few babies are born on their actual due-date, and many mums-to-go go past this date when waiting for their little ones to arrive.

How far over your due date doctors will let you go before labour is induced varies from country to country, and even hospital to hospital.

However, now UK medical experts are arguing that women should be induced as soon as they hit 41 weeks – to make the birth safer for them and their child.

This comes after research has showed that babies are more likely to die if the pregnancy goes beyond the 42-week mark and the chance of stillbirth increases the longer the wait goes on.

Earlier this week The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in the UK, a body of the Department of Health, published new draft guidelines saying women should be induced as soon as they hit 41 weeks – and that opting to go beyond this date should come with information on how this could possibly pose a risk to both mother and baby.

According to a 2018 study, offering all pregnant women the chance to induce labour early would cut complications and reduce the number of emergency C-sections. The researchers also discovered that inducing labour at 39 weeks – a week before the due date – was actually safer than waiting for the pregnancy to run its course.

The study, in which over 6000 expectant mothers in the US took part, revealed that triggering childbirth early cut caesarean sections by 16 percent, pre-eclampsia and hypertension by 36 percent, and breathing problems among newborns by 29 per cent.

The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, were described as ‘game changing’ by the researchers.

‘This new knowledge gives women the autonomy and ability to make more informed choices that better fit with their wishes and beliefs, lead author Professor William Grobman from Northwestern University said about the findings.

“Induction at 39 weeks should not be routine for every woman, but it’s important to talk with their provider and decide if they want to be induced and when.”

The study took place across 14 hospitals in Sweden between 2016 and 2018 and involved 2,760 women who volunteered to take part.

However, it was stopped because six babies in the latter group died. No deaths were recorded in the other group.

The doctors speculate that possible complications of allowing pregnancies to go beyond 41 weeks include the placenta breaking down and failing to provide the baby with adequate oxygen and nutrients, as well as the risk of womb infections.