Late preterm birth may pose serious neurologic risks

December 12, 2008

Late preterm infants were more than three times as likely to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy as full term babies, according to research forthcoming in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Late preterm infants were more than three times as likely to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy as full term babies, according to research forthcoming in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Investigators studied more than 140,000 babies born between 2000 and 2004, ranging from preterm to full term. When evaluating the babies' neurological development, they found the aforementioned increased risk of cerebral palsy, as well as an increased risk for developmental delay or mental retardation, when compared to babies who were born full term.

The investigators concluded that late preterm babies may benefit from neuro-developmental assessments, and that elective delivery via cesarean section or induction should not be performed before 39 weeks unless medically necessary.