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About the National Child and Maternal Health Education Program (NCMHEP) and the Know Your Terms Initiative

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About the NCMHEP

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) came together with more than 30 of the nation’s most prominent maternal and child health care provider associations, federal agencies, nonprofit maternal and child health organizations, and other partners to create the NCMHEP. Our objectives are to identify key challenges in child and maternal health, review relevant research, identify research gaps, initiate activities, and propose solutions to advance the field. Visit the NCMHEP Coordinating Committee webpage for a full list of organizations.

About the Issue: New Definition of Full-Term Pregnancy

In the past, a baby born anytime between 37 weeks and 42 weeks was considered “term.” We now know that key steps in a baby’s development occur at 37 and 38 weeks. Therefore, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists  and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine announced new, more precise definitions of the 37-week to 42-week period to reflect the increased health risks to babies born before 39 weeks.

  • Babies born in weeks 37 and 38 are now considered early term.
  • Babies born in weeks 39 and 40 are called full term.
  • Babies born in week 41 are called late term.

About the Know Your Terms Initiative

Expanding on the Coordinating Committee’s efforts in 2012 and 2013 to reduce elective deliveries before 39 weeks of pregnancy, the NCMHEP Coordinating Committee initiated the Know Your Terms Initiative to educate consumers and health care providers about the new definition of full-term pregnancy. The NCMHEP is developing a continuing medical education (CME) opportunity for doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners that discusses the new gestational age designations and best practices surrounding the new pregnancy definitions. To complement the CME course, the NCMHEP also offers free education materials, including a postcard, poster, and tear pad. Order free patient education materials.

Last Reviewed: 07/02/2014