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Washington D.C. :Researchers have found that early term deliveries adversely impact the baby's long term health by increasing the risk of diabetes, obesity-related illnesses, and the likelihood of a shorter life span.

 A pregnancy is full term when gestation lasts between 37 and 41 weeks. Deliveries between 37 and 39 weeks are called "early term". The deliveries between 39 and 41 weeks are considered ideal in regards to the newborn's health as compared to those that happen before or afterwards.

The researchers analyzed 54,073 early-term deliveries and 171,000 full-term deliveries to investigate hospitalizations of children up to the age of 18. The study found how early-term deliveries impacted pediatric health.

"We found that hospitalizations up to the age of 18 involving endocrine and metabolic morbidity were found to be more common in the early-term group as compared with the full-term group, especially at ages five and older," says Prof. Eyal Sheiner, M.D., Ph.D., a vice dean of the BGU Faculty of Health Sciences (FOHS) and head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Soroka University Medical Center.

Obesity was also found to be more frequent in the early term group, in addition to the type I diabetes mellitus being more common in early term children above the age of five.

"Pregnancies ending at early term were more likely to be complicated by hypertensive disorders and maternal diabetes (both gestational and pre-gestational). Deliveries were more often cesarean, and mean birth weight was significantly smaller," Dr. Sheiner says.

Babies born early term are more likely to be less than 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) at birth.

The researchers concluded that such diseases may further give rise to other associated diseases, increasing one's long term health expenditures and decreasing the life span.

The findings have been published in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology,

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