- You can expect that there may be a little higher mortality in waiting, but that the difference would be so great we would not have expected, says Ulla-Britt Wennerholm, chief physician and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Gothenburg University who is behind the study .

A total of 2760 women attended 14 childbirth clinics around Sweden in the Swedish Postterm Induction Study (SWEPIS) research study. The study was conducted between 2016 and 2018. When the women reached 41 completed pregnancy weeks, they were drawn into two different groups, half of the women started in week 41 and the rest in week 42.

Six children died in the study - all in week 42

The study did not show any difference between the groups in terms of women's health status, number of caesarean sections or instrumental deliveries (with suction clock or tongs). However, a significant difference was found when it comes to deaths among children.

A total of six children died in the study, all in the group to be started in week 42. Five children died in the woman's stomach, one died shortly after birth.

In the group that started week 41, no children died.

After the death study was prematurely discontinued

The study would include a total of 10,000 women but was prematurely discontinued due to the results. It was felt that it was not ethical to continue after the deaths.

- Of course, it is both a strength and a weakness that you cancel a study, but you have a safety committee that makes an assessment and we were recommended to finish the study. The outcome might have looked somewhat different in a larger study, but the pattern would probably have been the same, says Ulla-Britt Wennerholm.

Birth practices throughout the country can be affected

The study and the results are now published in the scientific journal British Medical Journal, and together with previous studies, the data can be an important piece of the puzzle for future positions in maternity care in Sweden.

- I hope that you will be able to make a joint decision in Sweden, that you can draw up national guidelines that are common to all maternity wards, which are based on the best evidence-based knowledge available today, says Ulla-Britt Wennerholm.