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Delivery of the preterm low birth weight singleton fetus

Jane Cleary-Goldman, MD
Julian N Robinson, MD
Section Editor
Charles J Lockwood, MD, MHCM
Deputy Editor
Vanessa A Barss, MD, FACOG


Delivery of the preterm low birth weight (LBW) fetus is often necessitated by maternal and fetal indications, including nonreassuring fetal status, intractable preterm labor, intraamniotic infection, placental abruption, placental insufficiency, hypertensive disorders, and other maternal factors (see individual topic reviews on these subjects). The prognosis for survival and long-term outcomes of these neonates continues to improve and can be attributed, in part, to widespread use of antenatal corticosteroids in women at risk for preterm birth, liberal use of cesarean delivery for fetal indications, improvements in neonatal resuscitation, use of surfactant therapy, magnesium sulfate prophylaxis, and delivery at facilities with personnel experienced in neonatal intensive care. (See "Incidence and mortality of the preterm infant".)


Low birth weight neonates are subgrouped according to the degree of smallness at the first weight determination after birth [1]:

Low birth weight (LBW): less than 2500 grams

Very low birth weight (VLBW): less than 1500 grams

Extremely low birth weight (ELBW): less than 1000 grams

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 16, 2017.
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