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Postterm Pregnancy

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) have defined prolonged pregnancy as 42 completed weeks or more. It is thus a pregnancy lasting more than 2 weeks beyond the confirmed expected date of delivery (cf. dating a pregnancy ). The expressions postterm pregnancy , prolonged pregnancy , postdates pregnancy and after-term pregnancy are often used to express the same condition. Prolonged pregnancy, in various studies, has been associated with an increased risk of intrapartum stillbirth (around 3/4 times higher), neonatal death (3 times more common) and early neonatal seizures (10 times more common) when compared to women who delivered at term. [ 1 ]

However, diagnosis of this condition is quite difficult as it depends on an accurate assessment of when the woman actually became pregnant (cf. dating a pregnancy ).

Due to the risks of postterm pregnancy both mother and foetus are evaluated for signs of postmaturity, around week 41. As long as the evaluation doesn't detect signs of postmaturity, a postterm pregnancy can be allowed to continue. The foetus is then monitored for well being and signs of foetal distress. Close surveillance may reduce the risk of perinatal death. However, if the evaluation detects postmaturity, labour is induced and the baby is delivered.
Techniques often used in diagnosing and monitoring postterm pregnancy include:

Counting foetal movements Biophysical profile Electronic heart monitoring
Amniotic fluid volume / Amnioscopy Ultrasound (Doppler) Contraction stress tests
Amniocentesis Hormonal tests Non-stress test

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1. Hygeia Foundation : http://hygeia.org/


Other HON resources 
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Postterm Pregnancy
Postmature infant
Infant, Postmature

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  http://www.hon.ch/Dossier/MotherChild/labor_complications/labour_postterm.html Last modified: Jun 25 2002