Health Care Utilization in the First 7 Years in Children with Fetal Growth Abnormalities: A Retrospective Cohort Study
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OBJECTIVE: To investigate the relationship between birth weight for gestational age and health care utilization of term offspring from birth to 7 years. STUDY DESIGN: We used a population-based retrospective cohort study of infants (≥37 weeks' gestational age) born between 2003 and 2007 in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia (n = 42 050). Perinatal records were linked to provincial administrative health data from birth to age 7 years. The primary outcome was health care utilization (physician visits and hospital admissions) and costs. Birth weight was categorized as small for gestational age (SGA, <10th percentile), appropriate for gestational age (AGA), or large for gestational age (LGA, >90th percentile). Regression models adjusted for potential confounders were used to investigate the associations. RESULTS: Children born SGA had a higher number of specialist visits and hospital admissions, a longer length of stay for the birth admission, and, as a result, higher physician and hospital costs amounting to a cost differential of Can $1222 during the first 7 years of life compared with children born AGA. By contrast, health care use and costs did not differ between children born LGA and AGA. CONCLUSION: Former SGA term infants have a moderate increase in health care use and costs in early childhood compared with former AGA infants, and LGA birth at term is not associated with higher health care utilization.