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Why 39 Weeks Matter

Did you know that the timing of fetal brain development is critical? Brain volume in a fetus increases by 50% between 34 and 40 weeks gestation. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists & American Academy of Pediatrics, caution is needed when inducing labor before 39 weeks unless medically necessary.

At WellStar, we take these new findings seriously. In an effort to support this mission, WellStar providers will not perform non-medically indicated elective deliveries prior to 39-completed weeks of pregnancy.
“Babies born prior to 39 weeks are at risk for complications such as increased neonatal intensive care admissions, increased risk of infection, and higher incidences of feeding and visual problems,” said Perry Busbee, M.D., chief obstetrics & gynecology officer for WellStar Health System. “Also, elective inductions prior to 39 weeks can cause an increased risk in C-sections if circumstances are not favorable.”
WellStar launched its elective induction practice changes in January of 2010. From January 2010 to May 2011, there has been a 43% reduction in elective births prior to 39 weeks.
“We are the first Atlanta-area health system to hardwire the 39-week mission into its process of standardized practices,” said Dr. Busbee. “No one should be undergoing an induction prior to 39 weeks unless medically necessary. At WellStar, we continually strive to create healthier birth opportunities for our babies.”
For additional information, you can go to or For a physician referral, contact 770.956.STAR.