THURSDAY, Dec. 3, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Gestational age at birth is strongly associated with an increased risk for hospital admission to age 10 years, according to a study published online Nov. 25 in The BMJ.

Victoria Coathup, Ph.D., from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the association between gestational age at birth and hospital admissions to age 10 years in National Health Service (NHS) hospitals in England. Data were included for 1,018,136 live, singleton births in NHS hospitals between January 2005 and December 2006.

The researchers identified 1,315,338 admissions between Jan. 1, 2005, and March 31, 2015; 63 percent were emergency admissions. During the study period, 52 percent of the children were admitted at least once. There was a strong association for hospital admissions during childhood with gestational age at birth. Children born extremely preterm (<28 weeks) had the highest rate of hospital admission throughout childhood compared with those born at full term (40 weeks of gestation; adjusted rate ratio, 4.92). Children born at 38 weeks also had an increased rate of hospital admission throughout childhood (adjusted rate ratio, 1.19). With increasing age, there was a decrease in the association between gestational age and hospital admission.

“Although the excess risk at 38 and 39 weeks was relatively small, the large number of babies born globally at these gestational ages suggests that they are likely to be a considerable clinical and economic burden,” the authors write.

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