Trigger: Mention of child death.
Medical studies are extremely important in advancing science and medicine. By learning about how to avoid certain diseases, how to treat said diseases and/or better your overall health, you can try and better yourself. Your health is important, and so is for family's health- you want to do anything in order to better yourself and your children. But sometimes, these studies can go very wrong.
In Sweden, a study on post-term pregnancy had to be canceled after six babies died. It happened about a year ago after 5 stillbirths and one early birth. What all of these tragedies have in common (aside from the study itself) is that all of the babies were born from women who were allowed to have their pregnancies continue to 43 weeks gestation.
There isn't an international consensus as to how to manage healthy pregnancies that go past 40 weeks gestation. However, it's generally accepted that there's a higher risk of negative effects to go past 41 weeks for both mother and baby. But due to said effects being small, researching late-term pregnancies means having a large number of women to get the necessary statistical significance that's needed.
This study was led by Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden, who set out to survey 10 000 pregnant women from 14 hospitals. Women who were 40 weeks pregnant were asked to partake in the study. They were then divided into two separate groups. Labour was induced at 42 weeks for one group, and it was induced at 43 weeks for the other group. The only reason a woman who was part of one of the two groups wasn't induced would be because she went into labour naturally.
The study was unceremoniously halted in October of 2018, despite having only looked at a quarter of their target number of moms-to-be. Six babies born from women who were induced at 43 weeks gestation had died by this point. These deaths were showed an increased risk for women who are induced at 43 weeks gestation. There were no deaths were reported in the group of women who were induced at 42 weeks pregnant.
But these deaths don't appear to have happened in vain. Since then, there have been multiple hospitals across Sweden who either plan to, or want to change their policies regarding when to induce labour. This is so women who are over 40 weeks pregnant don't go well past their estimated due date without giving birth. The hope is that no one's unborn baby dies in such a preventable manner.
As for the study itself, the final results won't be made public until after it's been published in a medical journal. But it doesn't sound like any researcher wants to resume this or a similar study on the effects of late-term pregnancy. After seeing the deadly consequences of doing so, it sounds like no one is eager to risk the lives of more unborn babies in the name of science.
"It is now likely we will never know the precise risks, because nobody will do a study with so many women again," explained Jan Jaap Erwich, professor of obstetrics at Groningen University in The Netherlands.