Best on Time, Not a Little Early: Gestational Age and Outcomes for Neonates with Congenital Heart Disease

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Circulation.2014; 129: 2495-2496

Ravi R. Thiagarajan, MBBS, MPH

Human gestation lasts 40 weeks from the date of the last menstrual cycle.1,2Neonates born 3 weeks before (37 weeks gestation) through 2 weeks after 40 weeks of gestation are considered as being born at term. This classification is based on the presumption that no differences in neonatal outcomes exist for those born during this 5-week period. Neonates born at or after 37 weeks of gestation, but before 39 weeks gestation, are thought to have matured adequately to allow an uneventful transition to postnatal life. Elective delivery on or after 37 weeks of gestation is therefore being increasingly used for medical (maternal and fetal) and nonmedical reasons.2,3 Recent research on gestational age and outcomes has shown that considerable differences exist in mortality and morbidity for neonates born during that 5-week time period.49 These reports also show that otherwise healthy neonates born at early-term (37 or 38 weeks) gestation have increased risk of poor outcomes in comparison with those born later at term (39 or 40 weeks) gestation.


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