Fetal Outcomes of Elective Delivery

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Retrospective observational studies have suggested that delivery at or beyond 39 weeks has numerous neonatal benefits including less need for respiratory support, fewer neurodevelopmental delays and lower health care costs. This has lead governmental agencies, and professional organizations to endorse a policy of limiting elective delivery prior to 39 weeks. Nonetheless, studies which have examined the implications of instituting such policies, have demonstrated mixed benefits and signaled some concerns about unintended outcomes, such as stillbirth. This chapter will detail the evidence that these policies have on certain neonatal outcomes and examine why the promise of such policies may remain unfilled.

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