Women over 40 at greater risk of stillbirth

Recommendations that pregnant women over 40 should be induced at 39 weeks

Pregnant woman
Pregnant woman
(Image credit: PA)

Recommendations that pregnant women over 40 should be induced at 39 weeks

Women over the age of 40 have a higher risk of stillbirth, according to research from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists at University College Hospital.

The review of cases found that the risk of stillbirth at full term among women over 40 was doubled.

However the risk at 39 weeks was similar to that of women in their 20s at 41 weeks.

Overall the risk of stillbirth for women over 40 was one in 132, compared to one in 217 for women in their late 20s.

Co-author of the paper Dr Anna Kenyon explained that inducing labour between 39 and 40 weeks could prevent the risk of late stillbirth without increasing the numbers of operative vaginal deliveries or emergency c-sections. However further research was needing into the effects of induced labour on women in their 40s.

Stillbirth occurs when a pregnancy goes beyond the 40 week term, after 42 weeks the placenta begins to fail and the foetus is starved of oxygen.


The leading destination for fashion, beauty, shopping and finger-on-the-pulse views on the latest issues. Marie Claire's travel content helps you delight in discovering new destinations around the globe, offering a unique – and sometimes unchartered – travel experience. From new hotel openings to the destinations tipped to take over our travel calendars, this iconic name has it covered.