Prolonged pregnancy is a known risk factor for stillbirth, but a new analysis on stillbirth data has shed further light on how this risk increases over time.
The research, led by Queen Mary University of London and recently published in PLOS Medicine, analysed data on over 15 million pregnancies across the UK, US, Denmark and Norway. The researchers assessed the risk of both stillbirth and neonatal death in term babies (37 weeks gestation and beyond).
Results indicated a small increase in risk of stillbirth at 41 weeks compared with 40 weeks, with no difference in risk of neonatal death during the same period. Despite the risk being equivalent to just one additional stillbirth per 1,449 pregnancies, researchers believe this should be communicated to pregnant women by health professionals. Currently, induction of labour is only routinely offered after 41 weeks’ gestation.
The study did have a number of limitations, including data loss where stillbirth estimates were not provided in weekly intervals, the wide time-span of the studies analysed, variations in the definitions of low-risk pregnancy, and potential confounders affecting the outcome.
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Source: Medical Xpress
Muglu J, Rather H, Arroyo-Manzano D, Bhattacharya S, Balchin I, Khalil A, et al. Risks of stillbirth and neonatal death with advancing gestation at term: A systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies of 15 million pregnancies. PLoS Med. 2019 July 2; 16(7): e1002838. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002838