For certain medical conditions, available data and expert opinion support optimal timing of delivery in the late-preterm or early-term period for improved neonatal and infant outcomes. However, for nonmedically indicated early-term deliveries such an improvement has not been demonstrated. Morbidity and mortality rates are greater among neonates and infants delivered during the early-term period compared with those delivered between 39 weeks and 40 weeks of gestation. Nevertheless, the rate of nonmedically indicated early-term deliveries continues to increase in the United States. Implementation of a policy to decrease the rate of nonmedically indicated deliveries before 39 weeks of gestation has been found to both decrease the number of these deliveries and improve neonatal outcomes; however, more research is necessary to further characterize pregnancies at risk for in utero morbidity or mortality. Also of concern is that at least one state Medicaid agency has stopped reimbursement for nonindicated deliveries before 39 weeks of gestation. Avoidance of nonindicated delivery before 39 weeks of gestation should not be accompanied by an increase in expectant management of patients with indications for delivery before 39 weeks of gestation. Management decisions, therefore, should balance the risks of pregnancy prolongation with the neonatal and infant risks associated with early-term delivery.
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