The risk of stillbirth increases once women pass full term, but new research suggests this could be earlier than the 40 week mark for women aged 40 and over.
Research carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) suggests that the risk of stillbirth is double between 39 and 40 weeks in women over 40 and that they should therefor be induced earlier.
It has been suggested that by week 39, women in the 40s are at the same level of risk of having a stillbirth as women in their 20s are if their pregnancy reaches 41 weeks, reports the Telegraph.
Figures show that the risk of stillbirth for women in their 40s was one in 132 compared to one in ever 217 for women aged 25 to 29.
Dr Anna Kenyon, University College London Hospital and co-author of the paper, said: “It is justifiable for experts to conclude that inducing labour at an earlier stage of gestation (39-40 weeks) in older mothers (40+ years) could prevent late stillbirth and any maternal risks of an ongoing pregnancy, without increasing the number of operative vaginal deliveries or emergency caesarean sections.
Anna adds, “Further research is required to more clearly define the effect of induction of labour in women of advanced maternal age.”