Spectrum of Short-Term Morbidities in Late Preterm Neonates Admitted to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Madapura Virupakshappa Prashanth, Deepthi Ramu, Guruprasad Gowdar


Background: Late preterm neonates are those born between 34 0/7 weeks and 36 6/7 weeks of gestation. Over the past decade, the prevalence of late preterm births has considerably increased, resulting in increased rates of admission to neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) due to respiratory morbidities (respiratory distress syndrome, transient tachypnea of the newborn, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, and apnea), metabolic morbidities (hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, and hyperbilirubinemia), and sepsis in comparison with term neonates.

Aim: To study the spectrum of short-term morbidities in late preterm neonates in the Indian scenario

Materials and Methods: One hundred and twenty-six late preterm neonates were included in this cross-sectional study conducted in a level 3 NICU of Bapuji Child Health Institute, JJM Medical College (Davangere, Karnataka, India). A pro forma was used to collect relevant details of the neonates and the clinical problems for which they were admitted. Morbidities such as hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, jaundice, sepsis, feed intolerance, respiratory distress, and perinatal asphyxia were studied.

Results: Late preterm neonates constituted 31.9% of total preterm admissions, of which male neonates (60%) were predominant. Mean admission of 12.9, 10.5, and 7.5 days was observed in 34, 35, and 36 weeks’ gestation groups, respectively. Among the morbidities studied, the most common were hyperbilirubinemia (67.4%) followed by hypoglycemia (55.5%) and respiratory distress (49.2%), the rest being hyperglycemia and feed intolerance (both 44.4%), asphyxia (25.4%), and sepsis (19%). Overall, 76% of late preterm neonates had more than one short-term morbidity requiring NICU admission.

Conclusion: Late preterm neonates are a special group that needs close monitoring and timely intervention when indicated. Admission and discharge criteria should be revised to prevent early morbidities and readmission in late preterm neonates.

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