Term small-for-gestational-age infants from low-risk women are at significantly greater risk of adverse neonatal outcomes.Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2018 05; 218(5):525.e1-525.e9.AJ
Small-for-gestational-age infants (birthweight <0th centile) are at increased risk of perinatal complications but are frequently not identified antenatally, particularly in low-risk women delivering at term (≥37 weeks gestation). This is compounded by the fact that late pregnancy ultrasound is not the norm in many jurisdictions for this cohort of women. We thus investigated the relationship between birthweight <10th centile and serious neonatal outcomes in low-risk women at term.
We aimed to determine whether there is a difference of obstetric and perinatal outcomes for small-for-gestational-age infants, subdivided into fifth to <10th centile and less than the fifth centile cohorts compared with an appropriate-for-gestational age (birthweight 10th-90th centile) group at term.
This was a retrospective analysis of data from the Mater Mother's Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, for women who delivered between January 2000 and December 2015. Women with multiple pregnancy, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, preterm birth, major congenital anomalies, and large for gestational age infants (>90th centile for gestational age) were excluded. Small-for-gestational-age infants were subdivided into 2 cohorts: infants with birthweights from the fifth to <10th centile and those less than the fifth centile. Serious composite neonatal morbidity was defined as any of the following: Apgar score ≤3 at 5 minutes, respiratory distress syndrome, acidosis, admission into the neonatal intensive care unit, stillbirth, or neonatal death. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed using generalized estimating equations to compare obstetric and perinatal outcomes for small-for-gestational-age infants compared with appropriate-for-gestational age controls.
The final study comprised 95,900 infants. Five percent were between the fifth and <10th centiles for birthweight and 4.3% were less than the fifth centile. The rate of serious composite neonatal morbidity was 11.1% in the control group, 13.7% in the fifth and <10th centile, and 22.6% in the less than the fifth centile cohorts, respectively. Even after controlling for confounders, both the fifth to <10th centiles and less than the fifth centile cohorts were at significantly increased risk of serious composite neonatal morbidity compared with controls (odds ratio, 1.25, 95% confidence interval, 1.15-1.37, and odds ratio, 2.20, 95% confidence interval, 2.03-2.39, respectively). Infants with birthweights <10th centile were more likely to have severe acidosis at birth, 5 minute Apgar score ≤3 and to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. The serious composite neonatal morbidity was higher in infants less than the fifth centile compared with those in the fifth to <10th centile cohort (odds ratio, 1.71, 95% confidence interval, 1.52-1.92). The odds of perinatal death (stillbirth and neonatal death) were significantly higher in both small-for-gestational age groups than controls. After stratification for gestational age at birth, the composite outcome remained significantly higher in both small-for-gestational-age cohorts and was highest in the less than the fifth centile group at 37+0 to 38+6 weeks (odds ratio, 3.32, 95% confidence interval, 2.87-3.85). The risk of perinatal death was highest for infants less than the fifth centile at 37+0 to 38+6 weeks (odds ratio, 5.50, 95% confidence interval, 2.33-12.98).
Small-for-gestational-age infants from term, low-risk pregnancies are at significantly increased risk of mortality and morbidity when compared with appropriate-for-gestational age infants. Although this risk is increased at all gestational ages in infants less than the fifth centile for birthweight, it is highest at early-term gestation. Our findings highlight that early-term birth does not necessarily improve outcomes and emphasize the importance of identifying this cohort of infants.