Early births increase, posing risks to newborns

Babies in a hospital nursery.

December 27, 2010 2:01:11 PM PST
The number of women having early births has increased dramatically during the past two decades, which may create new health risks for newborns.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average time a fetus spends in the womb has decreased by seven days in the United States since 1992.

Researchers say shorter pregnancies coincide with a large number of women and doctors now scheduling childbirth for convenience.

But shortening a pregnancy could affect a baby's lung development, vision, weight and some fine-tuning of the brain.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have begun notifying doctors about the serious consequences of performing early elective births.