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Delivery at 37 weeks' gestation is associated with a higher risk for child behavioural problems


Robinson, M and Whitehouse, AJ and Zubrick, SR and Pennell, CE and Jacoby, P and McLean, NJ and Oddy, WH and Hammond, G and Stanley, FJ and Newnham, JP, Delivery at 37 weeks' gestation is associated with a higher risk for child behavioural problems, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 52, (2) pp. 143-151. ISSN 0004-8666 (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1111/ajo.12012


BACKGROUND: Advances in obstetric care have been accompanied by increasing rates of intervention which often involve elective delivery at 37 weeks, soon after term gestation has been achieved.

AIM: The aim of this study was to examine the behavioural sequelae for children born at this early term gestational age compared with those born at later weeks.

METHODS: The Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study provided comprehensive obstetric data from 2900 pregnancies. Offspring were followed up at ages two, five, eight, 10, 14 and 17 years using the parent report Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) with clinical cutoffs for overall, internalising (withdrawn, somatic complaints, anxious/depressed) and externalising (delinquent, aggressive) behaviour (T-score ≥ 60). We used longitudinal logistic regression models incorporating generalised estimating equations (GEE) with step-wise adjustment for ante-, peri- and postnatal confounding factors.

RESULTS: Approximately 9% of our cohort was born within the range of 37(0/7) and 37(6/7) weeks. Those born at 37 weeks' gestation were at increased risk for overall (OR = 1.43, 95% CI = 1.02, 2.01) and externalising (OR = 1.42, 95% CI = 1.01, 2.01) behavioural problems in the fully adjusted model when compared with infants born from 39 weeks onwards. Infants born late preterm (34-36 weeks) and at 38 weeks did not show a significantly increased risk for behavioural problems.

CONCLUSION: Infants born at 37 weeks' gestation are at increased risk for behavioural problems over childhood and adolescence compared with those born later in gestation. We suggest that 37 weeks' gestation may not be the optimal cutoff for defining perinatal risk as it applies to behavioural development.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:behaviour, Child Behaviour Checklist, early term birth, late preterm birth, Raine Study
Research Division:Medical and Health Sciences
Research Group:Nutrition and Dietetics
Research Field:Clinical and Sports Nutrition
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health)
Objective Field:Nutrition
Author:Oddy, WH (Professor Wendy Oddy)
ID Code:107904
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:10
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2016-03-31
Last Modified:2017-11-06

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