Objective: We evaluated the hypothesis that elective early-term delivery increases the risk of childhood lower respiratory tract disorder hospitalization.
Methods: Children born via early-term elective inductions were compared to full- or late-term elective inductions in a retrospective cohort study using Washington State birth certificate and hospital discharge data. Outcomes were the odds of lower respiratory disorder hospitalization before age five and cause specific odds ratios for asthma, bronchiolitis, bronchitis, and pneumonia. In addition, a subgroup analysis excluding infants with perinatal complications was conducted.
Results: Electively induced early-term children were at significantly increased risk of hospitalization before age five for lower respiratory disorders compared to similar full- or late-term children (adjusted OR: 1.31, 95% CI: 1.11-1.55). Bronchiolitis was the only cause-specific outcome with a statistically significant increase in odds of hospitalization, though comparable increases were found for the less common diagnoses of asthma (adjusted OR: 1.39, 95% CI: 0.93-2.08) and pneumonia (adjusted OR: 1.27, 95% CI: 0.99-1.64). Excluding infants with perinatal complications did not alter the results.
Conclusions: There was an association between electively induced early-term delivery and hospitalization for lower respiratory tract disorders before age five. This reinforces policies discouraging elective early-term delivery.