Developmental Delays More Likely in Late Preterm Infants

Late preterm infants have poorer neurodevelopmental outcomes than term infants

TUESDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Late preterm infants are more likely than term infants to have mental or physical developmental delays and poorer neurodevelopmental outcomes, according to research published online Feb. 14 in Pediatrics.

Melissa A. Woythaler, D.O., of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues assessed 6,300 term and 1,200 late preterm infants born in 2001 who were part of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, a prospective national longitudinal study. The participants' mental index scores (MDI) and psychomotor index scores (PDI) were evaluated at age 24 months.

The researchers found that late preterm infants had significantly lower MDIs and PDIs than term infants. MDIs of lower than 70 were identified in a higher percentage of late preterm infants compared to term infants (21 versus 16 percent), while the proportion of infants with PDIs lower than 70 was similar in both groups (6.1 versus 6.5 percent). Late preterm infants were more likely to have mental (odds ratio [OR], 1.52) or physical (OR, 1.56) developmental delays even after controlling for factors such as gestational age or maternal race.

"Late preterm infants merit closer observation and developmental follow-up. These data support reorganization of services with more resource allocation to late preterm infants," the authors write.

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