After a decade of increase, the preterm birth (PTB) rate has declined in the USA since 2006, with the largest decline at late preterm (34–36 weeks). We described concomitant changes in gestational age-specific rates of neonatal mortality and morbidity following spontaneous and clinician-initiated PTB among singleton infants.
Design, setting and participants
This retrospective population-based study included 754 763 singleton births in Washington State, USA, 2004–2013, using data from birth certificates and hospitalisation records. PTB subtypes included preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM), spontaneous onset of labour and clinician-initiated delivery.
The primary outcomes were neonatal mortality and a composite outcome including death or severe neonatal morbidity. Temporal trends in the outcomes and individual morbidities were assessed by PTB subtype. Logistic regression yielded adjusted odds ratios (AOR) per 1 year change in outcome and 95% CI.
The rate of PTB following PPROM and spontaneous labour declined, while clinician-initiated PTB increased (all p<0.01). Overall neonatal mortality remained unchanged (1.3%; AOR 0.99, CI 0.95 to 1.02), though gestational age-specific mortality following clinician-initiated PTB declined at 32–33 weeks (AOR 0.85, CI 0.74 to 0.97) and increased at 34–36 weeks (AOR 1.10, CI 1.01 to 1.20). The overall rate of the composite outcome increased (from 7.9% to 11.9%; AOR 1.06, CI 1.05 to 1.08). Among late preterm infants, combined mortality or severe morbidity increased following PPROM (AOR 1.13, CI 1.08 to 1.18), spontaneous labour (AOR 1.09, CI 1.06 to 1.13) and clinician-initiated delivery (AOR 1.10, CI 1.07 to 1.13). Neonatal sepsis rates increased among all preterm infants (AOR 1.09, CI 1.08 to 1.11).
Timing of obstetric interventions is associated with infant health outcomes at preterm. The temporal decline in late PTB among singleton infants was associated with increased mortality among late preterm infants born following clinician-initiated delivery and increased combined mortality or severe morbidity among all late preterm infants, mainly due to increased rate of sepsis.