No exact forecast for birth dates

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Birth dates can only be roughly predicted

Birth dates cannot be predicted exactly, because the length of time a child stays in the mother's womb varies greatly from person to person. US researchers found that the duration of pregnancy can vary up to 37 days. Factors are probably responsible for this in the first two weeks after fertilization.
Until two weeks ago, Great Britain was looking forward to the birth of the new heir to the throne. Paparazzi and journalists posted themselves weeks before the event in front of the hospital, where Duchess Catherine was to give birth. Because nobody could know when the contractions would actually start and the little prince would see the light of day. A team of researchers led by Anne Marie Jukic from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Durham recently investigated whether an exact prediction of the duration of pregnancy is possible and what factors influence it. They present their results in the "Human Reproduction" magazine.

The researchers used the data from a previous study that looked at pregnancy. 125 women, who were on average 29 years old, gave urine samples every day in the weeks before and after conception, which the researchers used to evaluate the hormone content. From this, the time of ovulation and the day of implantation in the uterus (uterus) could be determined. Of course, all children were born - not by caesarean section or by artificially inducing labor.

The duration of pregnancy and the date of birth differ from one another by up to 37 days. The expected date of birth is usually set 280 days after the first day of the last menstrual period. However, the researchers found that the duration of pregnancy can vary by up to 37 days. “The average time from ovulation to birth was 268 days (38 weeks and two days). Even after six premature babies were excluded, the gestation period differed by up to 37 days, ”the researchers write. Pregnancy lasted longer for older women than younger ones, it is said. In addition, the scientists determined that women who had been pregnant for an above average length of time did not give birth until after the calculated date of birth, even in the second pregnancy. The longer the time between ovulation and embryo implantation, the longer the time until birth.

It is very likely that events within the first two weeks after fertilization have a decisive influence on the duration of the pregnancy. However, other theories could not be confirmed. "We were unable to confirm a connection between the length of pregnancy and other factors associated with this in previous studies, such as the body mass index (BMI), alcohol consumption, parity or the gender of the offspring," the researchers report in the specialist magazine.

Time of conception is said to affect baby's health According to another study, the time of conception is said to affect baby's health. Princeton University researchers in the United States concluded, among other things, that children who were conceived in May are at increased risk of premature birth and thus of certain diseases. As Janet Currie and Hannes Schwandt write in the specialist magazine "PNAS", influenza viruses could play a role in this. Influenza viruses could trigger premature birth in pregnant women the flu season in the United States. (ag)

Image: Zwilling 2006 /

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