Background: Evidence exists that normal gestational length varies with ethnicity. This UK-based study compares gestational length amongst a cohort of white European, Black and Asian women.
Methods: The cohort comprised 122 415 nulliparous women with singleton live fetuses at the time of spontaneous labour, giving birth in the former North West Thames Health Region, London, UK.
Results: The median gestational age at delivery was 39 weeks in Blacks and Asians and 40 weeks in white Europeans. Black women with normal body mass index (BMI) (18.5-24.9 kg/m(2)) had increased odds of preterm delivery (odds ratio [OR] = 1.33, 95% CI: 1.15, 1.56, adjusted for deprivation and BMI) compared with white Europeans. The OR of preterm delivery was also increased in Asians compared with white Europeans (OR = 1.45, 95% CI: 1.33, 1.56, adjusted for single unsupported status and smoking). Meconium stained amniotic fluid, which is a sign of fetal maturity, was statistically significantly more frequent in preterm Black and Asian infants and term Black infants compared with white European infants.
Conclusions: This research suggests that normal gestational length is shorter in Black and Asian women compared with white European women and that fetal maturation may occur earlier.