In the short term, babies born early are more likely to need help with their breathing; be admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit; have jaundice; and spend longer in hospital. In the medium term, they are more likely to be readmitted to hospital in the first year of life.
And in the longer term, early births are linked to an increased risk of developmental problems, such as poorer school performance.
“There is a general lack of awareness amongst both clinicians and expectant parents of the short, medium and long-term implications of being born even slightly early,” said Jonathan Morris, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at The University of Sydney.
“Those last few weeks of gestation might seem insignificant, but in reality, babies are going through crucial developmental phases. The brain at 35 weeks, for example, only weighs two-thirds of what it will weigh at 40 weeks.
For more information go to www.everyweekcounts.com.au
“We have developed an educational public awareness campaign called Every Week Counts which provides evidence-based information to promote the message that, providing it’s medically safe, it’s much better for a baby’s development that it remains in the womb until 39 to 40 weeks.”