The Developmental Outcomes of Late Preterm Infants

Andrea Johnstone, Pace University


The rate of premature, or preterm, birth (< 37 weeks gestation) has increased in recent decades and currently occurs in 12% of pregnancies in the United States (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2008). The rise in preterm births has been largely attributed to the rise in late preterm infants, those infants born between 34-0/7 and 36-6/7 weeks gestation. Late preterm infants currently represent 75% of all preterm births (Davidoff et al., 2006) and are the largest growing preterm subgroup (Martin et al., 2007). These infants are at greater risk for respiratory distress, feeding problems, jaundice, NICU admission, and neurological sequelae than their full term peers (Escobar et al., 2006; Laptook & Jackson, 2006; Tomashek, 2006; Wang et al., 2004). Long-term cognitive, academic, and social-emotional difficulties are also a concern. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the neurodevelopmental outcomes of late preterm infants. Participants included 74 late preterm infants admitted to the New York University and Bellevue Hospital Center Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) and participating in the Neonatal Continuing Care Program (NCCP). Neonatal medical data and neurodevelopmental follow-up data were examined, including a neurological exam and the Mullen Scales of Early Development (Mullen, 1995). Results indicated that, overall, late preterm infants functioned within the average range on measures of visual reception, fine and gross motor skills, expressive and receptive language, and overall development. Comparing late preterm infants to those born at earlier gestational ages (< 34 weeks) revealed similar performance in Mullen subdomains for late preterm versus early preterm infants. The relationship between specific neonatal and maternal factors, and later late preterm neurodevelopment was also examined. Neonatal factors such as a diagnosis of sepsis, respiratory distress syndrome, and the presence of respiratory difficulties at birth, and maternal factors, such as delivery type (e.g. vaginal delivery or cesarean section) and premature rupture of membranes, were found to have a statistically significant relationship to specific domains of neurodevelopment specific points in time.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Johnstone, Andrea, "The Developmental Outcomes of Late Preterm Infants" (2012). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3533511.



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