Study reveals lower birth rates on weekends and holidays in Japan

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

Significantly more babies were born on a weekday instead of weekend day or holiday, reveals a large-scale analysis of 21 million births in Japan over almost four decades published February 14, 2024 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Miho Sassa from the University of Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues.

Medical resources are generally stretched during holidays (including weekends) due to factors like staffing and hospital policies. This may amplify holiday effects: disparities and variations of health outcomes between holidays and weekdays. Dr. Sassa and colleagues studied this holiday effect with a focus on birth, especially high-risk births as measured by babies born preterm and/or with a low birthweight.

The authors used birth certificate data from over 21 million individuals born from 1979-2018 (which included birthday, birthweight, and gestational age) to categorize individuals into five groups: low birthweight (<2,500g), preterm birth (<37 weeks), low birthweight and preterm birth, and full-term birth. For this analysis, the authors compared weekdays (Monday-Friday) with weekend days (Saturday and Sunday), national holidays, substitute holidays, Golden Week (four consecutive spring festival days in Japan April 29-;May 5), and the new year period (December 29-;January 3). Leap days and multiple births were excluded. 

They found that all births were significantly less common on weekend or holiday periods versus weekends (p < 0.01). High-risk births became more frequent over the four decades studied, and the trend of non-weekend or holiday births was especially evident for high-risk births, which were found to take place particularly frequently on Thursday and Friday. Though this study doesn't include data on medical interventions or pregnancies that didn't end in a live birth, which could potentially impact the findings, its broad scale suggests medical staff may often control births so that they take place before a weekend or holiday, especially for high-risk births. The authors note that this may be prudent since there are often fewer staff or resources available on weekend/holiday days, but since some holiday births are inevitable, it's critical for hospitals to plan to minimize risks to those mothers who do give birth on non-weekdays.

The authors add: "Delving into decades of birth data in Japan, our research illuminates a fascinating trend-;deliveries on holidays, especially those deemed high-risk, show a distinct decline. This discovery prompts a call for innovative solutions and systemic strategies to safeguard maternal and neonatal well-being anytime, demonstrating the need for creative thinking in optimizing medical resources for everyone."

Source:
Journal reference:

Sassa, M., et al. (2024). Holiday effect on childbirth: A population-based analysis of 21,869,652 birth records, 1979–2018. PLOS ONE. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0296403.

Comments

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
Research from NY highlights pollution as a key factor in rising cancer rates among youth