The late preterm infant
journal contributionposted on 01.05.2018, 13:08 by Jessica C. Morgan, Elaine M. Boyle
Late preterm birth refers to birth at 34–36 weeks of gestation, which can occur for many different maternal and fetal reasons. Infants born late preterm represent almost three quarters of all preterm births, yet they have been studied much less than their more immature counterparts born at the limits of viability. Whilst problems of late preterm infants are generally fewer and milder than those of the most immature infants, nevertheless they are at increased risk of adverse neonatal outcomes. Mortality rates are higher than term infants and common morbidities in the neonatal period for late preterm infants include hypothermia, hypoglycaemia, difficulties in establishing oral feeding, jaundice and respiratory compromise. Long term health and neurodevelopmental problems, as well as educational difficulties are also known to occur, and effects of prematurity in this group may extend into adolescence and adulthood. Currently neonatal care for late preterm infants is delivered in a variety of settings and management varies between centres. This review aims to identify some of the key themes in the available evidence for late preterm babies and consider how this may impact upon health outcomes for these babies now and in future life.