Infants born following planned birth more likely to have poor child development

Planned births occur where a considered decision is made to deliver an infant, and in recent years there have been significant changes in clinical practice resulting in an increase in planned births before the ideal time of birth at 39-40 weeks’ gestation. This is mostly attributable to the increased use of elective caesarean section and induction of labour.

The study of 153,000 Australian children published today in Pediatrics reports that overall, 9.6 per cent of children were developmentally high risk. In particular, infants born following planned birth before the optimal time of birth were more likely to have poor child development.

Using the Australian Early Development Census instrument, children in the study were assessed in five domains: physical health and wellbeing, language and cognition, social competence, emotional maturity, and general knowledge and communication.

Children scoring in the bottom 10 per cent of these domains were considered ‘developmentally vulnerable’, and children who were ‘developmentally vulnerable’ on two or more domains were classified as ‘developmentally high risk’.

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