Infants born over 1 week early or over 1 week late may be at increased risk for epilepsy compared with term infants born at 39 or 40 weeks’ gestational age, according to a study recently published online in PLoS One.1
“[T]hese data could provide useful information to help women and caregivers make decisions with regard to the timing of induction of labour. It would also appear prudent to offer enhanced surveillance to these women in order to minimize any potential impact,” wrote first author David Odd, MBChB, MD, of the University of Bristol (Bristol, UK), and colleagues.
Recent research has suggested that early-term infants born at weeks 37 or 38 may be at increased risk for neurodevelopmental problems. Less research has been done on neurodevelopmental outcomes in late-term infants born at 41 weeks or after. But these infants are at increased risk for infection, stillbirth, and complications related to large birth size, such as shoulder dystocia. Research provides little guidance on which late-term infants may benefit from increased monitoring and induction of labor.
To provide more evidence, researchers analyzed data from 1,030,168 infants born without birth defects in Sweden between 1983 and 1993. By linking information in the Swedish Birth Register to national databases on health insurance, social insurance, and inpatient records, they compared disability, child mortality before age 5, and epilepsy diagnosis before age 20 for infants born at early term (37/38 weeks), term (39/40 weeks), and late term (41+ weeks). Results were adjusted for maternal age, occupation, and education, as well as infant sex, primiparity, maternal or infant infection, birth weight, and cesarean section.
1. Odd D, Glover Williams A, Winter C, et al. Associations between early term and late/post term infants and development of epilepsy: a cohort study. PLoS One. 2018;13:e0210181. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210181. eCollection 2018.