About the Issue: Definition of Full-Term Pregnancy
In the past, a baby born anytime between 37 weeks and 42 weeks was considered "term." We now know that key steps in a baby's development occur at 37 weeks and 38 weeks. Therefore, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine announce more precise definitions (PDF - 96 KB) of the 37-week to 42-week period to reflect the increased health risks to babies born before 39 weeks.
Key Messages of the Initiative
- Babies born in weeks 37 and 38 are now considered early term.
- Babies born in weeks 39 and 40 are called full term.
- Babies born in week 41 are called late term.
Key Activities of the Initiative
Expanding on the NCMHEP Coordinating Committee's efforts in 2012 and 2013 to reduce elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, the NCMHEP Coordinating Committee initiated the Know Your Terms initiative to educate consumers and health care providers about the new definition of full-term pregnancy. The NCMHEP developed a continuing medical education (CME)/ continuing education (CE) opportunity for doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners that discusses the new gestational age designations and best practices surrounding the pregnancy designations. To complement the CME/CE activity, the NCMHEP also offers free education materials, including a postcard, posters, and a tear pad.