Fetal and neonatal mortality in the postterm pregnancy: The impact of gestational age and fetal growth restriction

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Our purpose was to examine the impact of gestational age and fetal growth restriction on fetal and neonatal mortality rates in the postterm pregnancy.


All deliveries occurring in Sweden between Jan. 1, 1987, and Dec. 31, 1992, were evaluated for participation in this study. Data were derived from the National Swedish Medical Birth Registry. Pregnancies were selected for inclusion in the study on the basis of the following criteria: (1) singleton pregnancy, (2) reliable dates, (3) gestational age >or= to 40 weeks, and (4) maternal age 15 to 44 years. Fetal growth restriction was defined as birth weight < 2 SD below the mean for gestational age. A total of 181,524 pregnancies met the inclusion criteria and formed the study population. Fetal and neonatal mortalities at 40 weeks' gestation were used as reference levels. Logistic regression analysis was used to estimate the independent effects of gestational age and fetal growth restriction on fetal and neonatal mortality rates.


A significant rise in the odds ratio for fetal death was detected from 41 weeks' gestation and on (odds ratios 1.5, 1.8, and 2.9 at 41, 42, and 43 weeks, respectively). Odds ratios for neonatal mortality did not demonstrate a significant gestational age dependency. Fetal growth restriction was associated with significantly higher odds ratios for both fetal and neonatal mortality rates at every gestational age examined (with odds ratios ranging from 7.1 to 10.0 for fetal death and from 3.4 to 9.4 for neonatal death).


Postterm pregnancies have long been considered to be at high risk for adverse perinatal outcome. This study documents a small but significant increase in fetal mortality in accurately dated pregnancies that extend beyond 41 weeks of gestation. This study also demonstrates that fetal growth restriction is independently associated with increased perinatal mortality in these pregnancies. (Am J Obstet Gynecol 1998;178:726-31.)

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