According to a new study completed by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center, births occurring at night and over the weekend are just as safe for infants born with birth defects as weekday deliveries. There have been other studies completed that investigated the impact of delivery time and day on healthy infants, but this is the first to investigate the impact of delivery time and day on infants with birth defects.

Infants with birth defects born at night or over the weekend were cared for in the same way as infants with birth defects born on weekdays. There was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of NICU (neonatal intensive care) admission, antibiotic administration or breathing assistance received. Some doctors will schedule delivery of an infant with a known birth defect for a weekday, but that practice does not impact the outcome of the delivery, according to this study. Eva K. Pressman MD, a professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center admits to scheduling delivery during a weekday. “When we know that a baby will need further testing or surgical repair during the newborn period due to an identified abnormality, we typically try to arrange the delivery on a weekday. But the bottom line is that the timing of delivery isn’t terribly important; if a woman goes into labor in the middle of the night or over the weekend her baby will do just as well.”

The study reviewed birth records of 220 infants with known birth defects. Births were split into two categories – weekday (Monday to Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.) and night/weekend (Monday to Friday 6 p.m. to 7 a.m., Saturday and Sunday). Infants requiring surgery after birth waited longer for surgery when born on nights and weekends, but the outcomes of surgery were the same compared to infants born on weekdays. Hospital stays were relatively the same, aside from slightly longer hospital stays for infants with gastrointestinal defects. Infant mortality rate was the same.

The study group was relatively small, so researchers understand the results are limited. However, this study proves there is little if any reason to schedule delivery of infants with birth defects instead of allowing natural labor.

Source: Eva K. Pressman MD, Loralei L. Thornburg MD, Dzhamala Gilmandyar MD, Brittany Paivanas MD, Amy Hoeft MacDonald MD, Oluwateniola Brown, Tina Jensen, J. Christopher MD, MPH. University of Rochester Medical Center. Presented at The Pregnancy Meeting (the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine conference.) February 2012.