Medical researchers have found that the number of early births without medical cause is on the rise, as is the number of studies linking health complications to babies delivered before 40 weeks of gestation (pregnancy), compared to babies born after the full gestation period.
According to a journal article in Medical Care, published by the American Public Health Association, a study found that 7.3 million babies were born before their full-term was complete.
A 15-year study between 1995 and 2009 sought to measure the frequency, patient characteristics and infant outcomes of “non-indicated births,” defined as early births without medical cause. The study focused on California, Missouri and Pennsylvania, which make up 20% of all U.S. births.
The study also found that pre-term, cesarean sections without medical cause can double the risk of respiratory distress for newborns, as well as significantly increase the length of the newborn’s hospital stay.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee has warned against non-indicated early births, alerting the public that such births can cause transient tachypnea (a neonatal lung condition) and pneumonia, and even death.
Early-term births without medical cause also were found to occur more often in mothers who were older, more educated, had private health insurance, and delivered at smaller hospitals.