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

Acta Paediatr. 2012 Jan;101(1):e6-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2011.02459.x. Epub 2011 Sep 23.


Aim: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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%).

Conclusion: 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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Gestational Age*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Term Birth*