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Physician groups redefine 'term pregnancy'

October 23, 2013

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine last night published a joint opinion replacing the general label “term pregnancy” with specific definitions for “early,” “full,” “late” and “post-term” delivery. Under the new nomenclature, deliveries after 39 weeks and before 41 weeks of gestation are considered full term. Previously, babies born between 37 and 42 weeks of gestation were considered full term. “This terminology change makes it clear to both patients and doctors that newborn outcomes are not uniform even after 37 weeks,” said Jeffrey Ecker, M.D., chair of ACOG’s Committee on Obstetric Practice. “Each week of gestation up to 39 weeks is important for a fetus to fully develop before delivery and have a healthy start.” The AHA Board of Trustees last year adopted a formal position supporting policies to eliminate non-medically necessary deliveries before 39 weeks of gestation, which research has shown can increase health complications for babies.