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Higher Mortality Risk in Very Premature Males Than Females

But gender differences are no longer significant at 27 weeks of gestation

MONDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Male infants born extremely prematurely have a significantly higher risk of mortality and poorer long-term neurologic outcomes, but this gender difference loses significance at 27 weeks of gestation, according to a study published online Dec. 19 in Pediatrics.

Alison L. Kent, B.M.B.S., M.D., from the Canberra Hospital in Australia, and colleagues investigated whether male gender affects survival, early neonatal morbidity, and long-term outcomes in extremely premature neonates (less than 29 weeks gestation). Data for 2,549 infants (54.7 percent male), admitted to neonatal intensive care units between 1998 and 2004, were retrospectively analyzed. Hospital mortality and functional impairement at two to three years follow-up were the primary outcomes measured.

The investigators found that male neonates were more likely to have grade III/IV intraventricular hemorrhage, sepsis, and major surgery. Male infants had a significantly higher risk of hospital mortality (odds ratio [OR], 1.285) and moderate to severe functional disability at 2 to 3 years of age (OR, 1.877). At 27 weeks of gestation, gender differences in mortality and long-term neurologic outcomes were no longer significant.

"In the modern era of neonatal management, male infants still have higher mortality and poorer long-term neurologic outcome. Gender differences for mortality and long-term neurologic outcome appear to lose significance at 27 weeks [of] gestation," the authors write."

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