Early Birth Puts Babies at Risk for Future Hospitalizations

New research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) shows babies born before their due date tend to need more in-hospital care—even babies born at near term, or 38 and 39 weeks, according to The BMJ Today. Early Birth Puts Babies at Risk for Future Hospitalization.

Preterm birth can have long-term effects on a child’s health. Those risks decline as baby’s age. But researchers analyzing the medical records of more than 1 million children in the UK’s National Health System observed that the earlier the gestational age at birth, the more likely that child would be hospitalized later. Gestational age at birth was analyzed in weeks, from less than 28, up to 42 weeks.

This extra risk remained up to age 10, even for children born at 38 and 39 weeks’ gestation, representing many potentially vulnerable children, say the researchers. Infections were the main cause of excess hospital admissions at all ages, but particularly during infancy. Breathing and digestive issues also accounted for a large number of hospital admissions in a child’s first two years. 

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