Study suggests babies born on weekends have a higher risk of death

Researchers in England have found that babies born during weekends have a slightly higher risk of dying within their first seven days in comparison to those born on weekdays.

Imperial College London scientists analyzed 1.3 million births across English National Health Service hospitals between April 2010 and March 2012. Their findings showed the death rate was 7.3 per 1,000 babies born on weekends, compared to 6.4 per 1,000 babies born on weekdays.

Researchers noted an estimated 770 more newborn deaths and 470 more maternal infections per year than what would be expected from weekday births. The study, published in the British Medical Journal, also found that birth injuries and maternal infections occurred more often during weekends.

The findings raise questions about how obstetric care is influenced by the “weekend effect” which suggests that medical care is worse on weekends. The study’s authors said more research into the phenomenon is needed as no conclusions can be drawn about the cause and effect of the higher risk. Capacity strain, hospital policies, staffing levels and resource availability have been identified as some of the weekend effect’s possible underlying factors.

The researchers wrote, “Unless managers and practitioners work to better understand and tackle the problems raised in this paper, health outcomes for mothers and babies are likely to continue to be influenced by the day of delivery.”

Oregon Health & Science University obstetrics professor Dr. Aaron Caughey co-authored an editorial accompanying the study. He said it is unclear how the findings from England’s uniform hospital structure would apply to the United States. The diversity of U.S. health systems makes it challenging to identify national birth trends regarding the weekend effect.

It is important to note that determining fault can be more complicated than it might seem. If your child was injured and you believe someone else is fully or partially to blame, contact Chalik & Chalik to learn more about your rights.