Born just a few weeks early: does it matter?
- 1Hull York Medical School, University of Hull, Hull, UK
- 2Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
- Correspondence to Elaine M Boyle, Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, 22–28 Princess Road West, Leicester LE1 6TP, UK;
Contributors JDB performed the literature search, reviewed the literature and drafted the manuscript. EMB reviewed, revised and approved the final manuscript.
- Accepted 20 July 2011
- Published Online First 24 August 2011
Until recently, infants born at moderate preterm (32–33 weeks) and late preterm (34–36 weeks) gestations have gone largely unstudied. Since their outcomes were thought to be similar to those of infants born at 37 weeks and above, they have historically been managed in much the same way as infants born at term. However, accumulating data indicate that risks of morbidity and mortality are significantly greater in this group than previously believed. Since moderate and late preterm infants account for around 6% of all births, very large numbers of babies are potentially affected. Although their problems may be less obvious than those of extremely preterm infants, the population impact of long-term health and neurodevelopmental problems in this group will be substantial. This review summarises the current available literature, highlights gaps in knowledge and discusses the implications of late preterm birth for both clinical practice and research in the perinatal period and beyond.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.