Thursday, December 11, 2008

Non-medical cesarean delivery should wait until 39 weeks EGA

This is not new news, but today's Science Daily report on new research into the risks of late pre-term births is a useful reminder that the safest time to deliver a baby by cesarean delivery is at confirmed 39 weeks gestation in order to ensure that the baby is fully developed.

I have no doubt that this research will be misinterpreted by some bloggers and used to criticize women who choose to have a cesarean delivery with no medical indication. But on the contrary, what it actually shows is that non-medical cesareans at 39 weeks are in fact far safer for the baby than other types of cesarean deliveries (i.e. emergency and planned medical surgeries).

What the research found
Petrini et al's research, 'Increased Risk of Adverse Neurological Development for Late Preterm Infants', "evaluated the babies’ neurological development and found that late preterm babies were more than three times as likely to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy as full term babies. They also found that late preterm babies were at an increased risk for developmental delay or mental retardation."

But commenting in the article, editorialist Dr. Michael Kramer of McGill University said that "the increased risks may not always come from early delivery itself, but from other underlying problems, such as gestational diabetes, that may lead to early delivery."

This last remark emphasizes why 'general' reported risks associated with cesarean deliveries are not always applicable to planned cesarean deliveries with no medical indication in healthy pregnancies, and should not be used as an argument to prevent birth plan autonomy.

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