Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size

Babies Born Even Slightly Early May Lag Behind

Women urged to rethink early elective C-sections, inductions unless medically needed

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Kathleen Doheny

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- Many women choose to have labor induced or to have an elective Cesarean delivery before the full term of their pregnancy is up, but a new study suggests their child's development may suffer if they are born even a little early.

A term of 37 to 41 weeks is considered ''normal,'' but the new research finds birth at 39 to 41 weeks provides more developmental advantages compared to birth at 37 to 38 weeks.

"If the pregnancy is going well, it would be better to avoid doing elective C-sections early in the full-term window," said study author Dr. Betsy Lozoff, a professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan.

She and her colleagues tested 1,562 infants when they were 1 year old, then looked back to see at what week of term they were delivered. The babies were all born in Chile and all were delivered within the full-term window. Their average birth weight was 6.6 pounds.

For every additional week in the womb, however, the mental developmental test scored increased very slightly, by 0.8. The psychomotor scores -- which relate to body movement and coordination -- increased by 1.4 points for every additional week. This held after the researchers accounted for birth weight, gender, socioeconomic status and home environment.

The study is published online April 15 and in the May print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The trends of early induction and early C-sections have increased to 40 percent of all births, according to the researchers. Because of how common they are, the study authors wanted to focus on the effects of brain development with early deliveries. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the C-section rate reached 32 percent in 2007 in the United States.

The differences found in testing, on an individual level, were small, Lozoff said. The study reported average differences, so not all children born early were affected.

However, on a societal level, it could be very important, she said. "To give some reference point, the differences observed in this study are as large as those observed with low-level lead exposure." Exposure to lead has long been linked with developmental lags in children.

Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
parents and baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

mother holding baby at night
mother with sick child
Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
Track Your Babys Vaccines
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Woman holding feet up to camera
Father kissing newborn baby
baby gear slideshow