Delaying Birth by Two Weeks Boosts Baby's Survival

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A new study published in the June issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology shows that mortality rates are halved by waiting until at least 39 weeks rather than 37 weeks to give birth.

The study is the largest to confirm a message that public-health agencies and professional medical groups have been eager to spread: early elective deliveries are a bad idea. “Up until the last several years, we thought term pregnancies between 37 and 41 weeks were the same,” says Alan Fleischman, medical director at the March of Dimes. “This is not the case. It’s a biological continuum. The new data makes us pause and realize we ought not intervene unless there’s a very good medical reason.”

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