The World Health Organization suggests that women stay in the
hospital at least 24 hours after a vaginal delivery, but researchers
found that depending on the region, up to 83 percent of women left
before that cutoff.
Also, up to 75 percent of women left hospitals too soon after
cesarean-section deliveries, based on U.S. recommendations and laws.
"In some countries women are getting discharged incredibly early,"
said lead author Oona Campbell, of the London School of Hygiene and
The research team's overall goal is to measure quality of care, she
told Reuters Health, and to that end, "Length of stay is one thing
that we’re really trying to get a handle on."
Campbell and her colleagues analyzed average hospital stays after
childbirth in 92 countries - including 45 middle-income and 10
In developing countries, the average stay after a vaginal delivery
ranged from a half day in Egypt to a little more than six days in
After C-section deliveries in developing countries, stays varied
between two and a half days in Egypt to almost 10 days in Ukraine.
Ukraine's longer hospitalizations may be a result of former Soviet
Union norms that stipulated seven-day stays for women giving birth,
the researchers write in PLOS Medicine.
In developed countries, the U.K. had the shortest average stay after
vaginal delivery, at one and a half days.
Campbell said the new study can't tell what quality of care women
received, but short and long hospital stays carry risks.
For example, she said, staying too long in a hospital may increase a
woman's risk for an infection.
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"On the other hand, you want them to stay long enough to make sure
they’re not bleeding, the baby is feeding and the baby isn’t
jaundiced," Campbell said. "So there are a lot of reasons to want
the stay to be long enough."
Dr. Chris Glantz, a high-risk pregnancy expert who was not involved
in the new study, told Reuters Health that medical, social and
hospital factors all influence when women in the U.S. leave
hospitals after giving birth.
"There is no one size fits all here," said Glantz, of the University
of Rochester Medical Center in New York.
He said women and their partners can talk with their healthcare
providers and hospitals about policies and general expectations.
Healthcare providers should also give people a preview of the
expected length-of-stay, but Glantz said it's important for people
to remain flexible on when they might be sent home.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1TuwCQ8 PLOS Medicine, online March 8, 2016
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