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Study quantifies increased risks of early-term births

Tuesday October 1, 2013
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Early-term births are associated with higher neonatal morbidity and with more NICU or neonatology service admissions than are term births, according to a study.

Shaon Sengupta, MD, now of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and formerly of the University at Buffalo (N.Y.), and colleagues examined data over a three-year period from medical records of live births at major hospitals in Erie County, N.Y. Of the births they examined, 29,741 took place at a gestational age between 37 to 41 weeks.

According to results of the study, which was published Sept. 30 on the website of JAMA Pediatrics, 27% of all live births were early-term (birth at 37 to 38 weeks). In comparison with term newborns (birth at 39 to 41 weeks), early-term newborns had higher risks for birth complications, including hypoglycemia (4.9% vs. 2.5%), NICU or neonatology service admission (8.8% vs. 5.3%), need for respiratory support (2% vs. 1.1%) and requirement for intravenous fluids (7.5% vs. 4.4%).

Cesarean deliveries, common among early-term births (38.4%), posed a higher risk for NICU or neonatology admissions (12.2%) and morbidity compared with term births. NICU or neonatology admission also was more common in vaginal early-term births compared with term newborns (6.8% vs. 4.4%).

Early-term delivery “is associated with greater morbidity and with increased admission to the NICU or neonatology service in a geographic area-based setting,” the authors concluded. “This increased risk is more profound with cesarean section deliveries but exists for vaginal deliveries as well.”

Study abstract: http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1746118


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