Risk of stillbirth on weekends

01/29/04

Births on different days of the week should have similar outcomes for mothers and babies. Yet, evidence suggests that there are higher risks of stillbirth or early neonatal death or both among infants born on weekend days compared to those born on weekdays. Preferential timing of high-risk deliveries and differences in quality of perinatal care may be factors that contribute.

A new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Michael Kramer an internationally recognized researcher in this area and colleagues examined over 3 million births recorded in Canada between 1985 and 1998 to determine if weekend delivery in a country with universal health insurance was riskier on weekends. They found infants born during the weekend had "slightly but significantly elevated risks of stillbirth and neonatal death" (about 6% greater) than infants born on weekdays. The difference was reduced when the authors took into account the length of gestation, a known risk factor for stillbirth and neonatal death.

The authors state that the disappearance of excess risk of overall stillbirth and early neonatal death after adjustment for gestational age can probably be explained by the selective timing of low-risk elective deliveries, most of which are timed to occur on weekdays.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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