Babies who stay in the womb beyond 42 weeks of pregnancy are at risk of health conditions and behavioral problems, according to a new study. The researchers published their findings in the International Journal of Epidemiology, and conducted their research in the Netherlands, where postdates pregnancies were rarely induced until very recently.
It's interesting how we wrote a post about how premature births kill a million babies a year, and now some of the risks of being overdue are published. This research team, led by Dr Hanan El Marroun from the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Erasmus MC-Sophia in Rotterdam, studied over 5,000 babies. They noticed that those born after 42 of pregnancy were more than twice as likely to develop ADHD and related behavioral problems!
Holland was very well known for its "natural approach" to pregnancy and birth until recently. Prenatal testing isn't commonplace, pregnancy is seen as very normal and not a medical condition, and most women give birth drug-free, either at home or in a hospital. After one study that showed the neonatal mortality rate is too high in the Netherlands, the approach began to change a bit. Dr Hanan El Marroun told the press: Some people choose to go beyond 42 weeks and our advice would be they increase their risk of stillbirth and other complications."
Previous studies have already noted that going past 42 weeks pregnancy increases the risk of stillbirth, which is certainly a more immediate threat than ADHD! With recent research suggesting that babies born before 38 weeks of pregnancy are worse off than those born at term (40 weeks), it seems like there really is only a very small window in which delivery is optimal.
What do you think about these new findings? Would the risk of your child having ADHD in the future convince you to induce labor before 42 weeks?