How does inducing labour early affect educational achievement later in life?

Sarah Murray, Sarah Stock, Rebecca Reynolds, Jane Norman

Inducing labour early in uncomplicated pregnancies may reduce the risk of a baby dying, but may also influence their educational achievement later in life. Our researchers are linking information about births to the children’s school records. This will help doctors and parents make informed decisions about inducing labour early.

Start: 2019

End: 2022

Why do we need this research?

The length of time the baby spends in the womb, known as gestation, has consequences for the baby’s health in both the short- and long-term. Research has shown that in healthy pregnancies, inducing labour after 37 weeks reduces the chances that a baby will die during or shortly after birth. However, we also know that children born prematurely are more likely to have special educational needs later in life.

We need to learn more about the long-term health consequences of inducing labour early, so that they can be balanced carefully with the short-term risks to the baby immediately after birth.

What’s happening in this project?

Researchers funded by Tommy’s want to study how inducing labour early might affect the child’s educational achievements later in life. To do this, the team in Edinburgh are gathering information on all singleton births in Scotland from 1988 to 2014. They will collect data on the length of gestation and whether labour was induced, as well as other factors including birthweight and information about the mother.

The information for each child will then be linked to data in their school records, including any special educational needs they had, and some exam results. All data will be anonymised before it is analysed, so that no individual child or mother can be identified.

What difference will this project make?

By linking information about the children’s birth and their school records, the researchers will be able to find out whether inducing labour early influences educational achievement later in life. The results will add more information to what doctors already know about inducing labour in uncomplicated pregnancies. This will help them to ensure a good balance between the short- and long-term health and wellbeing of the babies in their care.

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