Neonatal morbidity pattern in early term births


  • Maya Menon Department of Pediatrics, SUT Academy of Medical Sciences, Trivandrum, Kerala, India
  • Sreejyothi G. Department of Pediatrics, SUT Academy of Medical Sciences, Trivandrum, Kerala, India
  • Raveendranath K. Department of Pediatrics, SUT Academy of Medical Sciences, Trivandrum, Kerala, India



Early term babies, Neonatal morbidity, Term babies


Background: Late preterm births are defined  as birth between 34 and 36 completed weeks gestation and term births as  born after 37 weeks of gestation. Maturation is a continuous  process till term and the severity of adverse outcomes with birth increases with decreasing gestational age. Recent studies showed increased risk of  morbidities for babies  at 37 weeks than its term counterpart babies  at 39 weeks. Considering the risk for adverse neonatal outcomes in early term births, various studies recommended that the label “term” be redefined as early term, full term and late term designations to more accurately acknowledge deliveries occurring at or beyond 37  weeks of gestation. This designation will help precise  identification and targeting these early term  babies for early intervention and for better neonatal outcomes.

Methods: This is a prospective study which included all  term births delivered during the 12-month study between January 2017 and December 2017. Babies born between 37 and 38 6/7 weeks were designated as early term and those born after 39 weeks as full-term babies. Neonatal outcomes of these babies were recorded and monitored till discharge.

Results: There were 660 term live births during the study period. The incidence of early term births account for 19.7%, as compared with full term births representing 80.3 %. Compared with term babies, early term births were at risk for transitional problems such as respiratory distress (61.5% vs 38.5%), hypoglycemia (76.2% vs 23.8%), hyperbilirubinemia requiring phototherapy (53.7% vs 46.7%) and feeding  problems (59.1% vs 40.9%).

Conclusions: Early term births are associated with increased risk of neonatal morbidities as compared with full term births. This indicates need for more attention towards preventing early term births.


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Original Research Articles