Neonatal outcomes of moderately preterm infants compared to extremely preterm infants.
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BackgroundExtremely preterm infants (EPT, <29 weeks' gestation) represent only 0.9% of births in the United States; yet these infants are the focus of most published research. Moderately preterm neonates (MPT, 29-336/7 weeks) are an understudied group of high-risk infants.MethodsTo determine the neonatal outcomes of MPT infants across the gestational age spectrum, and to compare these with EPT infants. A prospective observational cohort was formed in 18 level 3-4 neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver NICHD Neonatal Research Network. Participants included all MPT infants admitted to NICUs and all EPT infants born at sites between January 2012 and November 2013. Antenatal characteristics and neonatal morbidities were abstracted from records using pre-specified definitions by trained neonatal research nurses.ResultsMPT infants experienced morbidities similar to, although at lower rates than, those of EPT infants. The main cause of mortality was congenital malformation, accounting for 43% of deaths. Central Nervous System injury occurred, including intraventricular hemorrhage. Most MPT infants required respiratory support, but sequelae such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia were rare. The primary contributors to hospitalization beyond 36 weeks' gestation were inability to achieve adequate oral intake and persistent apnea.ConclusionsMPT infants experience morbidity and prolonged hospitalization. Such morbidity deserves focused research to improve therapeutic and prevention strategies.