Context Moderately preterm infants (32+0 to 36+6 gestational weeks [GW]) account for an increasing proportion of prematurity-associated short-term morbidities; yet there is a relative paucity of data regarding neonatal outcome in this cohort.
Objective To determine the association between neonatal morbidity and gestational age and also maternal and perinatal complications with an adverse impact on the neonatal outcome.
Methods In this retrospective cohort study, preterm infants (32+0 to 36+6 GW) without congenital anomalies, born in the Children’s and Maternity Hospital Linz between 2007 and June 2010, were included (n=870). Data about all morbidities (respiratory and gastrointestinal problems, hypoglycemia, hyperbilirubinemia with phototherapy, length of stay in intensive care unit, other relevant problems) during their hospital stay. Stepwise regression analysis was used to determine significant associations between morbidity and the gestational age.
Results Overall, the incidence of morbidities increased from 24% at 36 weeks to 43%, 55%, 75% and 93% at 35, 34, 33 and 32 weeks, respectively. The most frequent morbidities were hyperbilirubinemia requiring a treatment (29%) followed by respiratory (14%) and gastrointestinal (14%) problems. Less than 10% of the children had hypoglycemia; cerebral complications were rare. Lower gestational age was an independent risk factor for increased neonatal morbidity and longer hospital and NICU stays (p<0,001).
Conclusion Moderately preterm infants (32+0–36+6 GW) are at higher risks for neonatal morbidities, and the lower the gestational age at birth is the higher is the risk for neonatal morbidities.