In the present study, we evaluated post-natal growth and psychomotor development status of infants at 6 months of age based on their gestational age at elective cesarean sections.
This is a prospective cohort study performed in 2014-2015 in Iran. The study population consisted of 6-month-old infants with gestational ages of 38–40 weeks delivered by elective cesarean section. The subjects were divided into 3 groups: Group A (neonates with gestational age of 380/7 weeks), group B (neonates with gestational age of 390/7 weeks), and group C (neonates with gestational age of 406/7 weeks). At the infant age of 6 months, the mothers were called for follow-up visits. Growth and psychomotor status of all subjects were assessed by expert pediatricians based on the Age and Stage Questionnaires. Recorded data related to outcomes in neonatal period and 6 months later were analyzed to determine associations between groups’ variables.
A total of 952 subjects were found eligible for study participation. The mean birth weight, length and head circumference were significantly higher in group C compared with the other groups (P=0.005). Regarding growth parameters, a significant association was found between gestational age at birth and all other growth indices at 6 months of age (P=0.005). The mean weight at 6 months of age was higher in group B in comparison with group A (P=0.001) and C (P=0.007). Infants born at 380/7 weeks were shorter in comparison with those born at 390/7 (P=0.002) and 406/7 weeks (P=0.005). Head circumference was significantly lower in group A than group B (P=0.02) and C (P=0.05). Regarding psychomotor indices at 6 months, a significant association was found between gestational age at birth and problem-solving skills (P=0.003). Delays in problem-solving skills were more frequent in neonates born at 380/7 weeks compared with those born at 390/7 (P=0.005) or 406/7 weeks (P=0.003). This difference was also significant between the two groups who were born at 390/7 and 406/7 weeks (P=0.01).
The results from this study demonstrated that postponing the time of planned elective cesareans beyond 39 weeks of gestation may improve infant’s growth and psychomotor outcomes.