Objective Post-term babies have increased risk of complications, such as asphyxia and meconium aspiration syndrome. The aim of this study was to describe contemporary Norwegian short-term neonatal morbidity beyond 41 weeks of gestation.
Methods Data were obtained in a randomised clinical trial comparing induction of labour with expectant management at 41 weeks of pregnancy, showing no difference in outcome. (.1) A total of 508 post-term neonates born from 2002 to 2004 were examined by a paediatrician according to a prospective protocol.
Results Median gestational age was 291 days (range 287 to 302), median birth weight was 3970 g (range 2790 to 5150), median Apgar score at 5 minutes was 10 (range 3 to 10), median pH was 7.27 (range 6.86 to 7.52), and median base excess was −3 (range −18 to 7).
Twenty neonates (4%) were resuscitated at birth, mainly needing ventilation. One patient died. Meconium stained amniotic fluid was seen in 156 (31%), but meconium aspiration syndrome was diagnosed in only 4 neonates (1%). A total of 32 neonates (7%) were admitted to intensive care for a median stay of 6 days (range 1–15). Overall neonatal morbidity (1) correlated with increasing gestational age (Spearman’s rho = 0.10, p = 0.02).
Conclusions With proper antenatal care, expedient resuscitation, and access to neonatal intensive care, contemporary short-term morbidity in post-term infants is very low. In particular, meconium aspiration syndrome was rare despite a notable prevalence of meconium staining.