Opinion: By TODAYshow.com contributor and "Ask Kitty" columnist, Kitty Schindler -- Have we forsaken Mother Nature again? A recent report in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology points to a trend that troubles me as much as the skyrocketing rate of c-sections I’ve written about in the past: The number of American moms who have had labor induced nearly doubled between 1992 and 2003. As a nurse I worry about this –- as do researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- because I know that even though babies born in the 37th or 38th week of pregnancy are technically considered full-term, they are likelier to have problems than ones born after a full pregnancy (typically about 40 weeks). What kinds of problems? According to Dr. Michael S. Kramer, a senior researcher at McGill University in Montreal, late preterm babies (i.e., those born around the 37th or 38th weeks) are “more likely than full-term babies to suffer complications at birth such as respiratory distress; to require intensive and prolonged hospitalization; to incur higher medical costs; to die within the first year of life; and to suffer brain injury that can result in long-term neurodevelopmental problems.” In addition, he points out, “rates of death and respiratory distress are higher, and babies born earlier average somewhat lower IQ scores.” Kramer calls the rising levels of late preterm births “an important public health issue,” and I agree. As a mother of two as well as a nurse, I feel strongly that Mother Nature’s “wait and watch” is the best practice. And though Kramer acknowledges that induced labor may be becoming more common due to new technologies like Doppler ultrasound that enable doctors to monitor pregnancy more closely, he also says it’s possible that some labor inductions may be happening for the sake of “convenience.” And that’s what disturbs me most about this trend: There are many valid reasons for inducing labor which mother and doctor can decide together, but CONVENIENCE is not one of them. To bring a healthy baby into the world is such a joy; why take chances? Those last weeks, uncomfortable though they may be, allow further time for development of vital organs. What could possibly take priority over time to allow baby's heart, lungs and brain to fully mature? I say: Give your baby the best chance for a great start in life. Don't short-change him or her in the final weeks of pregnancy after putting in so much time already. Related stories:Discuss: Would you induce labor in the final weeks of pregnancy?