Early planned births 'may increase risk of poor child development'

9 November 2016

Parents who choose to have a child through an early planned birth may be at greater risk of their child experiencing poor development, according to a new study.

The University of Sydney research assessed data from 153,000 Australian children, of whom 9.6 per cent were considered to be developmentally at high risk of poor physical health and wellbeing, language and cognition, social competence, emotional maturity, or general knowledge and communication.

Compared to children born vaginally through spontaneous labour, the chances of being developmentally high risk was 26 per cent higher for a planned birth at 37 weeks and 13 per cent higher at 38 weeks.

Meanwhile, compared to children with a gestational age of 40 weeks, the likelihood of being developmentally high risk was 25 per cent higher at 32 to 33 weeks, 26 per cent higher at 34 to 36 weeks, 17 per cent higher at 37 weeks and six per cent higher at 38 weeks.

Study co-author Dr Jonathan Morris of the Kolling Institute and the University of Sydney said: "The timing of planned birth is potentially modifiable, and the benefits of waiting should be communicated to clinicians, mothers and families."

Planned births have gained popularity in recent years due to the increased availability of elective caesarean section and induced labour procedures. However, this research indicates there may be downsides to taking this approach.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

 

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