New Study Says Late-Term Babies Do Better in School

Is your kid arriving tardy to the party? Don't fret!

Late-Term Babies Do Better In School /Shutterstock

If you're currently around 40 weeks pregnant and considering inducing labor, you may want to hold off another week. Because while it may be annoying to walk around with a watermelon in your belly for another seven days, a new study has found that late-term babies—those born in the 41st week of pregnancy—actually do better in school.

Say what?

According to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics, 41-weekers have better test scores in elementary and middle school and are more likely to be classified as gifted when compared with children born at 39 or 40 weeks.

Uh-oh. Neither of my kids made it to full-term, let alone late-term. Though my son, who's in elementary school, was born at 36 weeks and has been classified as gifted. And my daughter, born at only 32 weeks, just rocked four straight semesters of all As in her final year of middle school.

So I'm just gonna go ahead and stop freaking out now, and break this study down for you, ok?

Researchers compared test scores of kids ages 8 through 15 on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). In the group, more than 320,000 children were born early-term, nearly 720,000 born at full-term, and almost 120,000 born late-term. They then looked at whether the children were classified as gifted by the Florida Department of Education.

The results? The kids who arrived tardy to the party outperformed their counterparts in three key categories, with higher standardized test scores, a greater percentage classified as gifted, and a smaller percentage with poor cognitive outcomes.

Lucky little devils! But get this—the late-term kids were also more likely to have physical disabilities at school-age. So maybe the decision of whether or not to induce at 40 weeks isn't so cut and dry after all.

"There seems to be no magic time to deliver your baby," study co-author Dr. David N. Figlio told Reuters Health. "There are tradeoffs associated with being born at 39 or 40 weeks versus being born at 41 weeks, and expectant parents should weigh the apparent cognitive benefits against the apparent physical risks when thinking about their most-preferred time to deliver."

Of course, the decision on when to deliver won't always be yours to make—but if it is, talk to your doctor about the best time for you. 

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