A substantial study in Sweden was abandoned after the deaths of six babies. The Swepis study looked at a number of women whose pregnancies lasted beyond the 40 week mark. There is no universal rule of law regarding strong pregnancies that extend over 40 weeks, but a common understanding is that the chances of something going wrong for both the mother and child rises somewhat after 41 weeks. The researchers decide that it wasn’t “ethically correct to proceed” with the trial.
To get definitive results, the study of late-term pregnancy needed a high amount of women. The study was headed by Sahlgrenska university hospital in Gothenburg – Sweden’s second largest city. It was meant to involve 10,000 expecting mothers across more than a dozen hospitals. At their 40th week of pregnancy, volunteers were called on to participate in the study. They were put into two categories: labour induction by the 42nd week, and labour induction by the 43rd week if it hadn’t happened naturally. The study was dropped this time last year after only acquiring roughly 25 percent of the anticipated amount of soon-to-be mothers. However, the half a dozen deaths had already given a strong indication that induction at week 43 posed a much higher risk. No babies died in the group where labour induction took place in the 42nd week.
The data has yet to be officially published, but some of the information can be found in a doctoral thesis on Gothenburg University’s website.
Hospitals to change policies
The author of the study says that the initial outcome “may be a change of the clinical guidelines to recommend induction of labour no later than at 41+0 gestational weeks”.
Sahlgrenska hospital has said that their policies relating to managing pregnancies will be altered according to the findings of the Swepis study. Several other hospitals will also be correcting their policies as well.
“We have awaited the scientific analysis showing that it is really true that there is a greater risk of waiting two weeks beyond term,” said the head of childbirth operations at Sahlgrenska. “Now we plan, as soon as we possibly can, to offer induction in week 41 to all women who go over term.”
“Since they terminated the study due to ethical reasons, it is highly unethical not to go public with those results,” stated Malin Asp, the chair of the Swedish Infant Death Foundation, Spädbarnsfonden. “There is potential to save babies’ lives.”