Objective. Small for gestational age (SGA) neonates have been considered to have accelerated pulmonary maturation and thus a lower risk for respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) than appropriate for gestational age (AGA) neonates. This, however, has not been thoroughly examined. Therefore, we compared SGA infants with AGA infants of the same gestational age (GA) with respect to risk of RDS, respiratory failure, or death.
Population. An indigent population born in a large county hospital.
Methods. Multivariate analyses were performed controlling for GA alone or for GA, race, sex, and congenital anomalies. Because the proper method to identify SGA infants is unclear, we performed separate analyses using different GA estimates (obstetric or pediatric) and intrauterine growth grids (hospital-specific grids or grids for a healthy, geographically-defined population).
Results. SGA infants did not fare better than AGA infants in any analysis. SGA infants had significantly increased risk in some analyses of RDS and in almost all analyses of respiratory failure or death. The risk associated with being SGA was generally comparable to that associated with male sex or White race.
Conclusion. The concept that intrauterine growth retardation accelerates lung maturation and improves outcome is not supported in comparisons of SGA and AGA infants of the same GA, sex, and race. This widely accepted concept deserves critical re-evaluation.
- Received August 24, 1993.
- Accepted July 18, 1994.
- Copyright © 1995 by the American Academy of Pediatrics