18/02/2015 12:01 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

'Induce Labour At 37 Weeks To Reduce Stillbirths,' Say Doctors

Mother cuddling her newborn baby

Inducing labour at 37 weeks can dramatically increase babies' chances of survival and reduce the risk of asphyxiation and cerebral palsy.

Researchers in Denmark analysed more than 770,000 babies born over a 13 year period.

They found that the inducements corresponded with a halving of stillbirths - down from 1.9 deaths per 1,000 births to one in 1,000 between 2000 and 2012.

Similarly, the risk of asphyxia dropped by 23 per cent from 2003 to 2012, and the risk of cerebral palsy fell 26 per cent between 2002 and 2010.

Other risk factors such as smoking, increased maternal age, first-time motherhood, multiple pregnancies and a higher body mass index were also all accounted for within the figures.

The proportion of newborns weighing more than 9lb 13oz - known as macrosomia - and with peripheral nerve injury also significantly decreased.

However, the risk of shoulder dystocia increased by 32 per cent.

Women are technically considered to be full-term at 37 weeks, and usually go into labour naturally between 38 and 42 weeks.

Official guidelines state that uncomplicated pregnancies should be induced by weeks 41 or 42.

The findings are published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Its editor-in-chief, John Thorp, warned the findings required further scrutiny before being implemented elsewhere.

He said: "Labour induction is a simple intervention, but demands a closer surveillance during labour and hospital settings must be able to support such changes."

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