Objective: We sought to determine the associations between intrauterine growth restriction and neonatal morbidity and mortality, as well as the impact of prenatal glucocorticoid administration on the frequency of specific complications of prematurity among neonates with intrauterine growth restriction.
Study design: We examined the association between intrauterine growth restriction and adverse neonatal outcomes in a population of 19,759 singleton very-low-birth-weight neonates without major birth defects. We included neonates from 25 to 30 weeks' gestation entered in the Vermont Oxford Network database between 1991 and 1996 by 196 institutions. Intrauterine growth restriction was defined as the 10th percentile for birth weight according to the 1993 US national statistics. Odds ratios were estimated according to stepwise logistic regression for each neonatal outcome. Potential explanatory variables included gestational age, intrauterine growth restriction, race, prenatal care, prenatal glucocorticoid administration, route of delivery, fetal sex, and birth within versus postnatal transfer to a network institution.
Results: There was a statistically significant association of intrauterine growth restriction with neonatal death (odds ratio, 2.77; 95% confidence interval, 2.31-3. 33), necrotizing enterocolitis (odds ratio, 1.27; 95% confidence interval, 1.05-1.53), and respiratory distress syndrome (odds ratio, 1.19; 95% confidence interval, 1.03-1.36). There was a trend (P <. 10) toward association of intrauterine growth restriction with increased risks of intraventricular hemorrhage (odds ratio, 1.13; 95% confidence interval, 0.99-1.29) and severe intraventricular hemorrhage (grades III and IV; odds ratio, 1.25; 95% confidence interval, 0.98-1.59). Maternal prenatal glucocorticoid administration was associated with significantly lower risks of respiratory distress syndrome (odds ratio, 0.51; 95% confidence interval, 0.44-0.58), intraventricular hemorrhage (odds ratio, 0.67; 95% confidence interval, 0.61-0.73), severe intraventricular hemorrhage (odds ratio, 0.50; 95% confidence interval, 0.43-0.57), and death (odds ratio, 0.54; 95% confidence interval, 0.48-0.62). The benefits of prenatal glucocorticoid therapy for growth-restricted newborns were similar to those among normally grown infants.
Conclusions: Intrauterine growth restriction within the range of 501 to 1500 g birth weight is associated with increased risks of neonatal death, necrotizing enterocolitis, and respiratory distress syndrome. Prenatal corticosteroid use was associated with decreased risks of all outcomes studied except necrotizing enterocolitis. We found no evidence that this benefit was dependent on fetal size.