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Care of late-preterm preemies may be insufficient
Date:1/3/2011

MAYWOOD, Ill. In the last 15 years the U.S has seen a sharp increase in the number of babies born as late-preterm infants, between 34 and 37 weeks' gestation. This is approximately 400,000 children each year, comprising over 70 percent of all preterm births. Often, late-preterm infants are treated the same as full-term infants since they are commonly a similar size and weight. Growing research is showing that this can be detrimental to a late-preterm infant's health and frequently results in readmission to the hospital within the first month of life.

"Late-preterm infants are often treated as though they are developmentally mature when in fact they are physiologically and metabolically immature. This makes them more susceptible to developing medical complications, such as respiratory problems, hypothermia, low blood sugar, jaundice and poor feeding," said Ramzan Shahid, M.D., medical director of the newborn nursery as Loyola University Medical Center.

A review of the medical charts of late-preterm infants born at Loyola University Hospital revealed that late-preterm infants who are 36 weeks gestational age and received the same care as full-term infants were almost twice as likely as infants born at 34 or 35 weeks who received care in the neonatal intensive care unit to have an emergency room visit in the first month of life. These findings were presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition held in San Francisco, Calif., this fall.

"This leads us to believe that health-care providers may have a false sense of security when treating late-preterm infants the same as full-term infants," said Shahid.

The review also found that late-preterm infants who were sent home less than 48 hours after birth also were twice as likely to have repeat hospital visits and late-preterm infants who only stayed in the newborn nursery or with their mother were three times more likely to be readmitted to the hos
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Contact: Evie Polsley
epolsley@lumc.edu
708-216-5313
Loyola University Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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