A whole-of-population study of term and post-term gestational age at birth and children's development

L.G. Smithers, A.K. Searle, C.R. Chittleborough, W. Scheil, Sally Brinkman, J.W. Lynch

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38 Citations (Scopus)


To examine the risk of poor child development according to week of gestation at birth, among children born ≥37 weeks' gestation.

Population-based study using linked data (n = 12 601). Setting South Australia. Population All births ≥37 weeks' gestation.

Relative risks of developmental vulnerability for each week of gestation were calculated with adjustment for confounders and addressing missing information.

Main outcome measures
Child development was documented by teachers during a national census of children attending their first year of school in 2009, using the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI). Children scoring in the lowest 10% of the AEDI were categorised as developmentally vulnerable.

The percentage of children vulnerable on one or more AEDI domains for the following gestational ages 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42-45 weeks was 24.8, 22.3, 20.6, 20.0, 20.4 and 24.2, respectively. Compared with children born at 40 weeks, the adjusted relative risks [(95% confidence interval (CI)] for vulnerability on ≥1 AEDI domain were; 37 weeks 1.13 (0.99-1.28), 38 weeks 1.05 (0.96-1.15), 39 weeks 1.02 (0.94-1.12), 41 weeks 1.00 (0.90-1.11) and 42-45 weeks 1.20 (0.84-1.72).

Children born at 40-41 weeks' gestation may have the lowest risk of developmental vulnerability at school entry, reinforcing the importance of term birth in perinatal care. Early term or post-term gestational age at birth can help clinicians, teachers and parents recognise children with potential developmental vulnerabilities at school entry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1303-1311
JournalBJOG: an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number10
Early online date6 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


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