Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Elective cesarean delivery at 38 and 39 weeks: neonatal and maternal risks

Glavind, Juliea; Uldbjerg, Nielsb

Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology: April 2015 - Volume 27 - Issue 2 - p 121–127
doi: 10.1097/GCO.0000000000000158
MATERNAL-FETAL MEDICINE: Edited by James F. Smith Jr.

Purpose of review The purpose of this article is to critically review the existing literature with regard to neonatal and maternal outcomes after elective cesarean delivery at 38 completed weeks versus 39 completed weeks of gestation.

Recent findings Recent observational studies have consolidated previous findings of an increased risk of neonatal composite morbidity, respiratory morbidity, and neonatal admission with elective cesarean delivery at 38 compared with 39 weeks of gestation. In opposition, results from the first randomized trial were recently reported in which there was no significant difference in the risk of neonatal admission with elective cesarean delivery at the two gestational weeks. In the mothers, the risk of adverse outcomes is similar with elective cesarean delivery at 38 or 39 weeks.

Though evidence of long-term adverse effects of early-term delivery (primarily spontaneous and vaginally) is accumulating, no data exist to elucidate whether these findings apply to children electively delivered by cesarean section.

Summary Neonatal but not maternal adverse events are more frequent with elective cesarean delivery performed at 38 than 39 weeks’ gestation. The difference, however, may be significantly smaller than previously anticipated. Further prospective studies, including investigations with focus on the impact of labor onset prior to cesarean delivery, are warranted.

Video Abstract

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text

aDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Regional Hospital of Randers, Randers

bDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus N, Denmark

Corresponding to Julie Glavind, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Regional Hospital of Randers, Skovlyvej 1, 8930 Randers, Denmark. Tel: +45 7842 0000; e-mail:

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Website (

Copyright © 2015 YEAR Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.