The use of ethnicity-specific birth weight distributions could save many healthy newborn infants from unnecessary monitoring and intervention and their parents from unwarranted anxiety, a new study suggests. Babies who were considered small for gestational age within their ethnic group had the greatest chance of adverse outcomes and twice the rate of adverse outcomes for infants considered small based only on population-based standards. Adverse outcomes included NICU admission, ventilation, 5-minute Apgar scores less than 7, extended hospital stays, infection, hypothermia and hypoglycemia. Infants considered small for gestational age by population-based birth weight standards alone were at higher risk only for hypothermia and NICU admission. The findings, in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, were based on evaluation of more than 100,000 term infants born in Washington state from 2006 to 2008. Read the study.

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