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Big Pregnancy Study Halted After 6 Babies Die

But results of late-term labor induction are being noted: 'There is potential to save babies' lives'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2019 7:21 AM CDT
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The Swedish research was halted after five stillbirths and an early death.   (Getty Images/Liudmila_Fadzeyeva)

(Newser) – A Swedish study has been canceled after the deaths of six infants, but early results are already changing the approach to late-term pregnancy. The Guardian reports on research undertaken by Sahlgrenska University Hospital that wanted to see, in pregnant women who'd gone past 40 weeks of gestation, if labor induction after 41 weeks of gestation was "superior" to induction carried out after 42 weeks. The research—which isn't yet fully available, but which was noted in one of the study's authors doctoral thesis—was launched due to the relative lack of data about post-term pregnancies where labor is induced. The goal was to survey 10,000 pregnant women at more than a dozen hospitals who'd gone past 40 weeks' gestation, but after 2,500 surveys were turned in, the research was suddenly halted last October, as early results were leading to a worrisome outcome.

Induction at the beginning of the 42nd week of gestation didn't lead to any infant deaths, but at the start of 43 weeks, six infants died after labor was induced—five were stillbirths, and one baby died soon after it was born. However, while the study has been canceled, the hospital has made a major change based on the results that did emerge: It's updating its pregnancy management process to make sure mothers-to-be aren't permitted to go more than two weeks beyond term. "Now we plan, as soon as we possibly can, to offer induction in week 41," a hospital exec said on Swedish TV. Others who've gotten wind of the research says all hospitals in the nation should follow suit. "It is highly unethical not to go public with those results," the head of the Swedish Infant Death Foundation says, per the Guardian. "There is potential to save babies' lives." (Read more pregnancy stories.)

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