Prolonged Pregnancy:: When Should We Intervene?

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The timely onset of labor and birth is an important determinant of perinatal outcome. Prolonged (postterm) pregnancy—defined as delivery at or beyond 42 weeks' gestation—complicates 10% of all gestations and is associated with increased risks to both fetus (stillbirth, macrosomia, birth injury, meconium aspiration syndrome) and mother (cesarean delivery, severe perineal injury, postpartum hemorrhage). The risk of routine induction of labor (failed induction leading to cesarean delivery) in the era of cervical ripening is lower than previously reported. For these reasons, the authors favor a policy of routine induction of labor for low-risk pregnancies at 41 weeks' gestation.

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