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Monday 24th October 2016

Older women should have option to be induced early

1st February 2013

A paper by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has recommended women over 40 should be able to choose to have an early induction to reduce the danger of losing their baby.


Dr Mandish Dhanjal, a clinical senior lecturer from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, and Dr Anna Kenyon, from University College London Hospital, examined studies which looked at how being an older mother affected the foetus and mother's health.

They said if women had an early induction at 39 weeks instead of 41 weeks, it could stop 17 stillbirths in the UK annually.

Dr Kenyon said: "It is justifiable for experts to conclude that inducing labour at an earlier stage of gestation (39-40 weeks) in older mothers (40+ years) could prevent late stillbirth and any maternal risks of an ongoing pregnancy, without increasing the number of operative vaginal deliveries or emergency caesarean sections." 

The authors estimated that 550 more women would need to be induced early (at 39 weeks) every year to prevent one still birth.

They added that if 4,750 women were induced at 40 weeks every year it could prevent seven stillbirths.

Women aged over 40 have a stillbirth risk of 7.6 per 1,000 pregnancies, women aged 35-39 have a risk of 5.5 per 1,000.

This means women over 40 have a one in 132 chance of having a stillborn baby, while women aged 35-39 have a one in 182.

Charlotte Bevan, from the stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands, commented: "It is with enormous frustration and sadness that Sands too often hears from mums whose seemingly perfect baby dies at or beyond term."

"The offer of induction at term for older mums could save many families from the indescribable devastation of losing a precious child."


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