Best on Time, Not a Little Early: Gestational Age and Outcomes for Neonates with Congenital Heart Disease
Human gestation lasts 40 weeks from the date of the last menstrual cycle1, 2. Neonates born 3 weeks prior (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 prior to 39 weeks gestation, are thought to have matured adequately to allow an uneventful transition to post-natal life. Elective delivery on or after 37 weeks of gestation is therefore being increasingly utilized for medical (maternal and fetal) and non-medical reasons2, 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 period4-9. These reports also show that otherwise healthy neonates born at Early-Term (37 or 38 weeks) gestation have increased risk of poor outcomes compared with those born later at Term (39 or 40 weeks) gestation.
- Received April 24, 2014.
- Accepted April 30, 2014.