The following is a summary of “Health Care Utilization in the First 7 Years in Children with Fetal Growth Abnormalities: A Retrospective Cohort Study,” published in the JANUARY 2023 issue of Pediatrics by Kuhle, et al.

For a study, researchers sought to investigate the relationship between birth weight for gestational age and health care utilization of term offspring from birth to 7 years. 

The study 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, with a total of 42,050 infants included in the study. Perinatal records were linked to provincial administrative health data from birth to age 7 years. The primary outcome was health care utilization, including physician visits, hospital admissions, and costs. Small for gestational age (SGA, <10th percentile), appropriate for gestational age (AGA), or large for gestational age (LGA, >90th percentile) birth weight categories were used. The connections were examined using regression models that were adjusted for various confounders.

The results of the study showed that 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 $1,222 during the first 7 years of life compared with children born AGA. On the other hand, healthcare use and costs did not differ between children born LGA and AGA. The study concluded that 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. This information is important for healthcare providers to consider in managing the health of newborns and can be used to identify infants who may require additional healthcare resources in the future.

Overall, the findings suggested that birth weight for gestational age is an important predictor of healthcare utilization and costs in early childhood. Therefore, healthcare providers should consider birth weight when managing newborns. In addition, the study provided a valuable contribution to the literature on birth weight and its relationship to healthcare utilization and costs, and future studies could further explore this relationship in different populations and settings.