The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine have released a committee opinion outlining new recommendations for what constitutes a “full term” pregnancy. 

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In the past, “term” was considered to be the period from 3 weeks before until 2 weeks after the estimated delivery date, with the expectation that neonatal outcomes during this interval were uniform and good.

However, research has shown that neonatal outcomes, especially respiratory and morbidity, vary based on the timing of delivery within this 5-week gestational age range. 

Researchers noted that the frequency of adverse outcomes is lowest among uncomplicated pregnancies delivered between 39 0/7 weeks of gestation and 40 6/7 weeks of gestation.

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In late 2012, a work group was formed to address this lack of uniformity and released recommendations to replace the label “term” with the following:

  • “early term”:  37 0/7 through 38 6/7 weeks of gestation
  • “full term”: 39 0/7 through 40 6/7 weeks of gestation
  • “late term”: 41 0/7 through 41 6/7 weeks of gestation
  • “postterm”: 42 0/7 weeks of gestation and beyond

The work group discourages the use of the label “term” to describe deliveries between 37 0/7 and 41 6/7 weeks of gestation. ACOG and SMFM are encouraging clinicians to use the work group’s recommended new gestational age designations to more accurately describe deliveries occurring >37 weeks of gestation.

ACOG and SMFM are working with other expert groups to establish evidence-based consensus on criteria for determining gestational age.

For more information call (800) 673-8444 or visit the ACOG Committee Opinion page


Which Do You Think Constitutes a “Term” Pregnancy?