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Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2008 Nov;63(11):715-24. doi: 10.1097/OGX.0b013e318186a9c7.

Postterm pregnancy: how can we improve outcomes?

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Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


Postterm pregnancy is defined as one which has progressed to 42 0/7 weeks or beyond. The most common reason to be diagnosed with a postterm pregnancy is inaccurate pregnancy dating, but it is also associated with obesity, nulliparity, and a prior history of postterm pregnancy. The rate of postterm pregnancy appears to be decreasing whether due to improved pregnancy dating or an increase in induction of labor. Postterm pregnancy is associated with both maternal and neonatal morbidity and fetal and neonatal mortality; similarly pregnancies beyond 41 weeks' gestation are associated with increases in these perinatal complications. Prevention of postterm pregnancies may include stripping or sweeping the membranes and unprotected coitus. Management of such pregnancies may include induction of labor and fetal antenatal monitoring. Individual patient management should involve careful counseling regarding the risks and benefits of each of the components of care.


Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Family Physicians.


After completion of this article, the reader should be able to recall the increasing risks of poor outcomes associated with prolonged pregnancy, demonstrate knowledge regarding gestational dating and use of cervical ripening agents in their care of pregnant women, and use evidence-based information when counseling their term patients regarding postterm pregnancy management.

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