WEDNESDAY, Feb. 19, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Moderate-to-late preterm babies (born at a gestational age of 32 to 36 weeks) with no significant medical problems on admission are likely to be discharged at 36 weeks of postmenstrual age, according to a study recently published in the American Journal of Perinatology.

Alanna Higgins Joyce, M.D., M.P.H., of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and colleagues retrospectively conducted an electronic chart review on 12,498 infants admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) from 2009 through 2015 to identify 3,240 moderate-to-late preterm infants (32 0/7 and 36 6/7 weeks of gestation).

The researchers found that the mean postmenstrual age at discharge was 36 3/7 weeks. Significantly longer length of stay (LOS) was seen for infants who were small for gestational age. Significantly longer LOS was also seen for infants born between 34 and 36 6/7 weeks if they had respiratory distress syndrome. Additionally, longer LOS was seen for infants with admission diagnoses of neonatal abstinence syndrome, meconium aspiration syndrome, hydrops, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, biliary emesis, ABO incompatibly, or a genetic diagnosis.

“Clinicians, hospitals, and families all desire and deserve the most reliable estimates of discharge timing for all NICU infants,” the authors write. “Our results indicate that for moderate-to-late preterm infants in the NICU with no other significant medical problems at admission, families can reasonably be counseled that discharge can be expected at 36 weeks of postmenstrual age.”

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