Babies born at 37 and 38 weeks more sickly

Babies born just two or three weeks early found to have a higher risk of illnesses including asthma

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Babies born between 37 and 38 weeks are more likely to have poor health and suffer from illnesses than those born at full term, according to a new study.

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Premature babies, those born before 37 weeks, are generally considered to be more at risk of illnesses and developmental problems. But new research has found that babies born at 37-38 weeks may also have an increased risk of sickliness.

After 37 weeks, babies are generally to be considered ‘full-term’, but this study of 14,000 children, by experts at the Universities of Leicester and Oxford, suggests that being early by even just a couple of weeks could be bad for babies’ long-term health and put them at a greater risk of developing asthma.

“The results also challenge perceptions about outcomes for babies born during part of the period of gestation that has traditionally been regarded as term (37 to 38 weeks),” the report explained.

Leanne Metcalf, from Asthma UK, added, “This is not the first piece of research to indicate that every week spend in the womb is important for a baby in order to reduce its risk of developing asthma in childhood.”

The study may encourage doctors and parents to keep a closer eye on babies born a little early, rather than consider them completely full term.

There are some things mums-to-be can do to reduce their risk of giving birth prematurely. These include avoiding alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine as well as getting to a healthy weight before you conceive and keeping active during pregnancy.

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