Neonatal morbidity in singleton late preterm infants compared with full-term infants

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The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that singleton late preterm infants (34 0/7 to 36 6/7 weeks of gestation) compared with full-term infants have a higher incidence of short-term morbidity and stay longer in hospital.


In this retrospective, multicentre study, electronic data of children born at five hospitals in Switzerland were recorded. Short-term outcome of late preterm infants was compared with a control group of full-term infants (39 0/7 to 40 6/7 weeks of gestation). Multiple gestations, pregnancies complicated by foetal malformations, maternal consumption of illicit drugs and infants with incomplete documentation were excluded. The results were corrected for gender imbalance.


Data from 530 late preterm and 1686 full-term infants were analysed. Compared with full-term infants, late preterm infants had a significant higher morbidity: respiratory distress (34.7% vs. 4.6%), hyperbilirubinaemia (47.7% vs. 3.4%), hypoglycaemia (14.3% vs. 0.6%), hypothermia (2.5% vs. 0.6%) and duration of hospitalization (mean, 9.9 days vs. 5.2 days). The risk to develop at least one complication was 7.6 (95% CI: 6.2–9.6) times higher among late preterm infants (70.8%) than among full-term infants (9.3%).


Singleton late preterm infants show considerably higher rate of medical complications and prolonged hospital stay compared with matched full-term infants and therefore need more medical and financial resources.

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