Danish obstetricians will not yet decide whether amendments to the deadline for birth date should be changed in Denmark.

For almost a year, researchers at the University of Gothenburg remained silent, according to The Guardian, on the results of a study of pregnant women going past the due date – although the results may have an impact on births in both Sweden, Denmark and other countries.

The study was discontinued for ethical reasons in October 2018, after five babies were stillborn and one fetus was dead in the stomach of a pregnant woman.

As part of the trial, the six pregnant women had continued their pregnancy into week 43, while another trial group started giving birth in week 42, which is normal practice in Sweden.

In total, the discontinued study should have included over 10,000 women in 14 Swedish hospitals. 2,700 women attended.

“It is our belief that continuing the trial would not have been ethically correct,” the researchers concluded, according to The Guardian.

“Very unethical”
But the researchers have not publicly shared the results of their research, although Swedish SVT and TV 4, among others, have mentioned the research project. The results first appeared in September this year, when one of the researchers published the research on the University of Gothenburg’s website as a doctoral dissertation.

The results have not yet been published in a scientific article, but they are expected to be published in the acclaimed medical journal British Medical Journal shortly.

  • Since they discontinued the study for ethical reasons, it is very unethical not to share the results with the public. As here there is the potential to save infants’ lives, says Malin Asp, head of the Swedish Infant Fund, to TV 4.
    If they will change the recommendations for the initiation of birth in Denmark, Kenya, Tanzania or other countries has not been decided as of yet.
  • We look forward to the results being published in a scientific article, and you may wonder, it has taken so long, says Hanne Brix Westergaard, chief physician, PhD. and clinical lecturer at the Gynecological-Obstetrics Department, North Zealand Hospital, Hillerød, for TV 2.

She is also chairman of the Danish obstetricians’ organization, the Danish Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology (DSOG). DSOG is behind the guidelines for births for women that go beyond the due date, which Danish hospitals are recommended to follow.
In Denmark, it is recommended that all births be completed before the end of 42 weeks, and pregnant women are offered to get the birth initiated from week 41 and two to five days – ie in the 42nd week, according to the recommendations on the website of the Midwifery Association.

  • It is too early to say whether the recommendations should be changed. But we will certainly discuss these research results when we see them, says Hanne Brix Westergaard.

Swedish hospitals has started to make changes in the practice According to SVT, in Sweden, the now discontinued research study has led to at least one Swedish hospital has decided to change procedures from 2020e of giving birth to women who go beyond the deadline date.

  • We have been waiting for the scientific analysis to show if it is true that there is a greater risk of waiting two weeks beyond the due date. Now we plan, as soon as possible, to offer all women who go over time, to initiate birth in week 41, says Niels Crone, head of the maternity ward at Sahlgrenska Hospital in Gothenburg.

So far, at the hospital in Gothenburg and at several other Swedish hospitals, all women who are going over time have been offered the start of birth in week 42.

Danish TV 2 has tried in vain to get a comment from University Lecturer Anna Wessberg, University of Gothenburg. She is one of the researchers behind the discontinued Swedish study, as she is the one that is behind the publication of the research on the university’s website as a PhD dissertation.