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Study looks at effects of weekend effect on births

Some North Carolina residents may have heard of a phenomenon called the "weekend effect". This refers to the tendency for patients to have poorer outcomes when admitted to the hospital on weekends. Studies have returned inconclusive results about the causes and likelihood of this tendency, but recently, a study in England found that babies born over the weekend had a higher mortality rate than those born during the week.

The research looked at more than 1.3 million deliveries and births between 2010 and 2012. It made adjustments for factors including the mother's health, socioeconomic status and age. It examined the incidence of infant death within a week after birth, also known as perinatal mortality, as well as other conditions. Perinatal mortality increased from 6.5 per 1,000 cases during the week to 7.1 on weekends. Infections rose from 8.2 to 8.7 per 1,000 births while emergency readmissions rose to 12.3 from 11.8 per 1,000. None of these differences could be attributed to a lower staffing level over the weekend.

It is still unclear what may be causing this weekend effect, and researchers say that further study is needed. According to two obstetrics experts, it is possible that a unit cannot cope as effectively beyond a certain patient load or degree of complexity.

Regardless of the time of week, women may have complications during or after the delivery process, and it may result in a birth injury. A parent of a child who was severely injured during the delivery process may want to speak with a medical malpractice attorney to determine the recourse that may be available for seeking compensation for the damages that have been sustained.

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