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Are Complications of Childbirth More Common at Night?

by | July 13th, 2010

Are Complications of Childbirth More Common at Night?

A recent Dutch study reported in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that delivering at night was associated with an increase in mortality and complications.

The study, led by senior researcher Dr. Eric A.P. Steegers of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, is based on more than 700,000 births at all Dutch hospitals between 2000 and 2006.

Overall, infants at non-tertiary hospitals who were born in the evening (between 6 p.m. and midnight) or overnight into early morning (between midnight and 8 a.m.) were 32% and 47% more likely, respectively, to die than those born during the day. At tertiary centers, only overnight births (between midnight and 8 a.m.) were linked to an increased risk of newborn death. The other adverse outcomes the researchers studied were low Apgar scores and admissions to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Low scores were seen in 1% and 4% of infants born at non-tertiary and tertiary centers, respectively.

The findings were similar when combining all adverse birth outcomes and are in line with trends other studies have found not only in obstetrics, but in hospital intensive care units as well, the researchers say.

The reasons for the increase are not known but several possibilities exist according to the researchers. The absences of senior staff and fatigue have been suggested as possible reasons for the increase in mortality with evening and overnight deliveries.

Dr. Steegers said that more research is needed, however, to understand the extent to which hospital organization plays into the higher risk of childbirth complications at night.

J. Kyle Mathews, MD

Plano OB Gyn Associates

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Category: News & Education, Obstetrics |


Dr. J. Kyle Mathews is an expert in the field of Urogynecology, minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgery, and reconstructive gynecologic surgery. Dr. Mathews is board certified and a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology as well as the American College of Surgeons. With over two decades of experience, Dr. Mathews is one of the most experienced surgeons in north Texas.

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