1. Tiedje, Linda Beth PhD, RN, FAAN

Article Content

Petrini, J. R., Dias, T., McCormick, M. C., Massolo, M. L., Green, N. S., & Escobar, G. J. (2009).Journal of Pediatrics, 154, 169-176.


Late preterm births comprise over 70% of all preterm births; this means about one in 11 live births in the U.S. occurs between 34 and 36 weeks gestation (about 370,000 births per year). An accumulating body of research demonstrates increasing risk for these infants, especially immediate newborn morbidities such as hypoglycemia, hypothermia, prolonged jaundice, seizures, and feeding problems (Wang, Dorer, Fleming, & Catlin, 2004).


This study by Petrini and colleagues expands the evidence on late preterm birth by examining data related to neurodevelopmental outcomes, specifically cerebral palsy and developmental delay/mental retardation. Data were from the Northern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program and covered 141,321 children with follow-up for up to 5.5 years. Results indicated that children born late preterm were more than three times as likely as children born at term (37-40 weeks) to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy. There was only a modest association between late preterm birth and developmental delay/mental retardation, partly because the children in the study have not yet entered school when learning disabilities would be more likely to be diagnosed.


These data should definitely be taken into account when considering common practices such as fertility treatments, labor induction, and scheduled cesarean births. The large and increasing numbers of late preterm infants demonstrates the importance of evidence-based practice in this area.




Petrini, J. R., Dias, T., McCormick, M. C., Massolo, M. L., Green, N. S., & Escobar, G. J. (2009). Increased risk of adverse neurological development for late preterm infants. The Journal of Pediatrics, 154(2), 169-176.


Wang, M. L., Dorer, D. J., Fleming, M. P., & Catlin, E. A. (2004). Clinical outcomes of near-term infants. Pediatrics, 114, 372-376. [Context Link]