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"There are still a lot of babies who are being delivered more or less electively at 37 and 38 weeks, with people thinking, `This is no big deal -- these babies are full-term.' I think this is a big deal," Aschner said. She was not involved in the study.
Aschner said no one is recommending trying to delay childbirth for women who go into labor at 37 weeks or 38 weeks.
"I don't want to panic moms whose babies come at 37 weeks," she said. "But those elective early deliveries really need to stop."
Some hospitals including Vanderbilt require obstetricians planning elective C-sections to complete a checklist and if appropriate boxes aren't checked, the operation can't be performed, Aschner said.
In the study, 15 percent of children were born in C-section operations but there was no information on how many of these were elective or medically necessary procedures. C-sections can cause birth complications that also increase chances for developmental delays. But the researchers took that into account, along with other risk factors including low birth weight, lack of prenatal care, smoking during pregnancy and neighborhood poverty -- all of which could contribute to academic difficulties. And they still found that birth at 37 weeks and 38 weeks was an additional risk.
Pre-term birth: http://1.usa.gov/NNmf6U
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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