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J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 2009 Jan-Mar;23(1):78-86. doi: 10.1097/JPN.0b013e31819685b6.

Complications of the late preterm infant.

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  • 1University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


One of the goals of Healthy People 2010 (set in 1998) was to reduce preterm birthrates from 11.6% to 7.6%. However, in 2004, the preterm birthrate of 12.5% was actually higher than the rate in 1998. Approximately 65% of this increase in prematurity rate is attributed to the increasing birthrate of the late preterm infant. Care of the late preterm infant is far more complicated than many hospital policies and clinical guidelines imply. It cannot be stressed enough to frontline clinicians that late preterm infants are not full-term infants. Their care should not be defined by the same policies and practices that govern term infants. The purpose of this article is to explore the complications that accompany late preterm birth. The following complications will be discussed: thermoregulation challenges, feeding difficulty, late neonatal sepsis, prolonged physiologic jaundice, hypoglycemia, possible neurodevelopmental differences, and respiratory problems.

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