Babies Can Arrive on Time, Day or Night

Birth defects happen at night or on weekends

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Moms have one less thing to worry about for giving birth - whether the time or day matters. Day or night, weekday or weekend, their babies will get the same quality of care regardless.

A new study reveals that babies born with birth defects who arrived over the weekend or in the evenings did just as well as similar babies born on weekdays.

"Mothers should give birth when their bodies are ready - not sooner or later."

Lead author Dzhamala Gilmandyar, M.D., of the University of Rochester Obstetrics and Gynecology department, and colleagues analyzed the cases of 220 babies born with birth defects over the years from 2000 to 2010 at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Of the total, 101 were born during the day and 119 in the evening or on a weekend. Most of the defects seen in the babies were gastrointestinal or heart problems, such as holes in these organs.

The researchers defined the weekday daytime as Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. They considered cardiac, facial, gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal birth defects.

They limited their study to babies born after the 23rd week and over a pound.

They found the babies were admitted to the NICU at the same rate, received a similar quality of care - such as necessary antibiotics or breathing assistance - and they stayed at the hospital for about the same length of time.

The study's results mean it's not necessary to induce a woman or give her a C section to avoid a late night or weekend delivery, said author Loralei Thornburg, M.D. and professor of maternal-fetal medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

"If there is no medical reason for inducing labor, it is best to let the baby come on its own time because we know elective induction is associated with negative outcomes for mom, including increased rates of cesarean delivery, greater blood loss and an extended length of stay in the hospital, and is without significant benefits for the baby," Dr. Thornburg said.

Also among the services the researchers tracked were the newborns' rates of death and the time it took for the newborn to receive any necessary operations after birth.

Babies born during daytime hours did enter surgery faster than nighttime or weekend babies, but not if they had gastrointestinal or heart defects.

Only the babies with gastrointestinal problems born during the day had shorter relative hospital stays than their counterparts born at night or on a weekend.

The outcomes of all the babies, including those with gastrointestinal or heart problems, were not any different for daytime babies versus nighttime and weekend infants.

Previous studies had looked at the quality of care between daytime weekday births and nighttime or weekend births for healthy newborns, but this is the first study to consider babies born with defects requiring a higher level of care.

The study may not apply to hospitals across the U.S. because it was conducted at only one medical center with a relatively small number of infants studied retrospectively in the study.

The study was presented February 10 at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in Dallas, TX. No information was available regarding the study's funding or financial disclosures of the authors.

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Last Updated:
February 16, 2012