The risks to babies’ health posed by planned early delivery for non-medical reasons

Cristina Borra, Universidad de Sevilla
Libertad González, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Almudena Sevilla, University College London

Planned early delivery for non-medical reasons has negative consequences for babies’ health. They have a lower birth weight and are hospitalised more frequently during their first months of life.
Key points
  • 1
       In recent years the number of childbirths brought forward for non-medical reasons has increased in many countries. In Spain, the rate of induced deliveries was 19.4% in 2010, nearly double that recommended by the World Health Organisation, which sets it at 10%.
  • 2
       Children delivered preterm due to the cancellation of the “baby cheque” weighed less at birth (by between 130 and 300 grams) and had 20% more hospitalisations, especially due to respiratory problems.
  • 3
       Some 2,000 families brought their baby’s delivery forward to meet the qualifying deadline for a subsidy of €2,500 (the famous “baby cheque”). This has enabled research into the impact this practice had on the babies’ health.
Babies born close to the turn of the year
Babies born close to the turn of the year

At the turn of the year 2010-2011, coinciding with the qualifying deadline for the “baby cheque”, a subsidy worth €2,5000 per child, many more births took place at the end of December than at the beginning of January. Specifically it is estimated that some 2,000 deliveries were brought forward for non-medical reasons, representing approximately 6% of all the births in January. Families who brought delivery forward to the largest extent were characterised by a university education, women with Spanish nationality, and home provinces with a stronger presence of the private hospitals network.

The risks posed to babies’ health

Babies that were delivered preterm due to the cancellation of the baby cheque weighed less at birth (by between 130 and 300 grams) and suffered a considerable increase in hospitalisation rates during their first two months of life (approximately 20% more), fundamentally due to respiratory conditions. However, long-term effects on the health of these children were not observed.

Policy implications

Since individuals and families respond to economic incentives, it would have been more appropriate for the cancellation of the baby cheque to have been less abrupt, instead taking the form of a progressive reduction in the subsidy over the course of several months. Moreover, families and medical practitioners must be made aware that planned early delivery for non-medical reasons is not a neutral decision from a health perspective.

Hide full article

Classification

Authors

Cristina Borra, Universidad de Sevilla
Libertad González, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Almudena Sevilla, University College London

Tags

Thematics


You may also like

Dossier

Research and innovation: what are our stakes?

Research and innovation: what are our stakes?

Science

Is it countries with resources that make the biggest investment in science? Or is it that countries that devote the most efforts to science are those that generate the greatest wealth? This is the opening question of the third "la Caixa" Social Observatory Dossier, which analyses the current social context of science and to what extent it represents a value-added contribution to our society. 

Article

How many people do we know?

How many people do we know?

Science

According to this study, we frequently interact with an average of 536 acquaintances, but the number is different for each person. What factors influence the size of our relationship circles?

Article

Environment and employment: is there a prize for clean play?

Environment and employment: is there a prize for clean play?

Science

The Social Observatory of “la Caixa” wonders whether it is possible to combine concern for the environment with economic growth. This study, one of the first in its field, shows a positive link between eco-innovation and the creation of employment, even in periods of recession.