A prospective study of the severity of early respiratory distress in late preterms compared to term infants
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OBJECTIVE: To compare the severity of early respiratory distress in late preterm (LPT) versus term infants. METHODS: A prospective cohort study was conducted in a tertiary care neonatal unit in Thailand. Levels of respiratory support, duration of intubation, and short term morbidities were compared between LPT and term infants. RESULTS: Two-hundred nineteen LPT and 564 term infants were included over a period of 2 years (2009-2011). 106 (48.4%) LPTs versus 58 (10.3%) term infants received non-invasive ventilation or intubation [p < 0.001; OR (95% CI) 8.2 (5.6, 12.0)]. The intubation rate was 24.7% in LPTs versus 7.3% in term infants [p < 0.001; OR (95% CI) 4.18 (2.7, 6.5)]. The duration of intubation was longer in LPT infants (median 5.0 versus 2.0 days. p = 0.03). There was a non-significant trend towards a higher mortality rate in the LPT group [p = 0.14; OR (95% CI) 3.9 (0.7, 23.5)]. CONCLUSIONS: This is one of three published prospective studies on the topic. The study design lends more robust credence to the results previously identified only in retrospective and systematic reviews. LPT infants are more likely to require positive-pressure ventilation support and incur a longer duration of intubation. A trend towards greater mortality is prevalent compared to term infants.
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