(HealthDay News) – Early-term births are associated with high neonatal morbidity and admission to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or a neonatology service, according to research published online Sept. 30 in JAMA Pediatrics.
Shaon Sengupta, MD, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues analyzed data from 33,488 live births during a three-year period to assess the short-term morbidity of early-term neonates (37–38 weeks) vs. term neonates (39–41 weeks).
The researchers found that 27% of births were early term. Early-term neonates, compared with term neonates, had significantly increased risks for admission to the NICU or a neonatology service (8.8% vs. 5.3%), need for intravenous fluids (7.5% vs. 4.4%), hypoglycemia (4.9% vs. 2.5%), treatment with intravenous antibiotics (2.6% vs. 1.6%), respiratory support (2% vs. 1.1%), and mechanical ventilation or intubation (0.6% vs. 0.1%). Compared with term neonates, risk of NICU or neonatology service admission was increased for early-term neonates with cesarean section or vaginal deliveries.
“This study demonstrates that gestational age remains a strong predictor of neonatal morbidity even after adjustment for mode of delivery, as well as other common prognostic factors,” the authors write.