A new study questions the use of common references for assessing 'small for gestational age' (SGA) in very preterm infants across Europe. SGA describes a baby who is smaller than the usual amount for the number of weeks of pregnancy.
In the study, investigators generated a common European reference for determining SGA as well as country-specific references for 11 participating countries using the countries' average birthweights at term.
When using the common European reference, SGA in very preterm infants was more prevalent in countries with low term birth weight than in countries with high term birth weight.
"Our study shows that birthweight in the general population has a strong impact on reference percentiles for very preterm gestations. To effectively benchmark outcomes for small for gestational very preterm infants across Europe, references should be adapted to each population," said Dr. Jennifer Zeitlin, lead author of the Acta Paediatrica study.
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Jennifer Zeitlin et al, Variation in term birth weight across European countries affects the prevalence of small for gestational age among very preterm infants, Acta Paediatrica (2017). DOI: 10.1111/apa.13899