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Socioeconomic inequity in survival for deliveries at 22–24 weeks of gestation


Objective Guidelines recommend individual decision making on resuscitating infants of 22–24 weeks’ gestational age (GA) at birth. When the decision not to resuscitate is made, infants would likely die soon after delivery, and under some circumstances such neonatal deaths may be registered as stillbirths occurring during delivery (intrapartum stillbirth). Thus we assessed whether socioeconomic factors are associated with peridelivery deaths (during or within 1 hour of delivery) of infants delivered at 22–24 weeks’ gestation.

Methods We analysed 14 726 singletons of 22–24 weeks’ GA using the 2003–2011 Japanese vital statistics, and assessed how maternal characteristics influence risk of peridelivery death as well as intrauterine fetal death (IUFD) and death after 1 hour of age until 40 weeks postmenstrual age.

Results Living in a municipality with low-average income (lowest tertile (risk ratio 1.32, 95% CI 1.20 to 1.44), middle tertile (risk ratio 1.08, 95% CI 0.98 to 1.19)), younger maternal age (age <20 (risk ratio 1.43, 95% CI 1.17 to 1.75), age 20–34 (risk ratio 1.14, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.27)) and having previous live births (risk ratio 1.08, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.17) increased risk of peridelivery deaths, but did not increase risk of IUFD or deaths after 1 hour of age. Peridelivery death was twice as likely to occur in births to multiparous teenage mothers in a low-income municipality, compared with those of older primiparous mothers in a wealthier municipality.

Conclusions Socioeconomic factors substantially influence whether births of 22–24 weeks’ GA survive delivery and the first hour of life. Such disparities may reflect the impact of socioeconomic situations on decision making for resuscitation.

  • palliative care
  • neonatology
  • ethics
  • epidemiology

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