Morbidity and discharge timing of late preterm newborns

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2010 Nov;49(11):1061-7. doi: 10.1177/0009922810376821. Epub 2010 Aug 19.


Late preterm newborns (LPNs), those with gestational ages (GAs) between 34 weeks and 36 weeks 6 days, account for 70% of preterm births. Because they have a mature appearance and are often cared for in a well baby nursery (WBN), parents may anticipate that the nursery course will be similar to that of a term infant and that their newborn will be discharged with his/her mother. How frequently their hospitalizations are prolonged beyond that of their mothers and the morbidities associated with prolonged hospitalization (PH) have not been well described. The objectives of the study were to (1) determine the proportion of LPNs with a PH and (2) describe the most common morbidities in LPNs and identify those associated with PH. The authors conducted retrospective chart reviews of the neonatal courses of LPNs born between December 2002 and April 2007 at the University of Utah Hospital. They compared maternal and newborn discharge dates to determine the proportion of LPNs with a PH and calculated frequencies of conditions and interventions indicating morbidity and identified associations between each of the conditions/interventions and PH. Of 235 LPNs, 94 (40%) had a PH; 75% of 34-week LPNs had a PH compared with 50% of those with GAs of 35 weeks and 25% of those with GAs of 36 weeks. The most common conditions/interventions were an oxygen need, phototherapy for jaundice, and hypothermia requiring an isolette. A need for nasogastric feeding and antibiotic administration for >3 days was consistently associated with a PH. LPNs whose only intervention was phototherapy for jaundice or IV antibiotics for <3 days did not have a PH. As a group, two thirds of LPNs experienced one or more conditions/interventions indicating morbidity, and 40% had a PH. Both were much more common in LPNs with GAs of 34 weeks compared with LPNs with GAs of 36 weeks. Nursery clinicians should counsel parents of LPNs regarding the likely possibility of morbidity and PH.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Gestational Age*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia, Induced
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature* / growth & development
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / epidemiology
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / prevention & control
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / therapy*
  • Intubation, Gastrointestinal / statistics & numerical data
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Morbidity
  • Oxygen / administration & dosage
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data*
  • Phototherapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Utah / epidemiology


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Oxygen