Margulis AV, Calingaert B, Kawai AT, Rivero-Ferrer E, Anthony MS. Distribution of gestational age at birth by maternal and infant characteristics in U.S. birth certificate data: informing gestational age assumptions when clinical estimates are not available. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2023 Sep;32(9):1012-20. doi: 10.1002/pds.5633

PURPOSE: We aimed to describe the distribution of gestational age at birth (GAB) to inform the estimation of GAB when clinical or obstetric estimates are not available for perinatal pharmacoepidemiology studies.

METHODS: We estimated GAB (median, mode, mean, and standard deviation) and percentage born at each gestational week in groups based on plurality and other variables for live births in CDC's U.S. birth data.

RESULTS: In 2020, 3 617 213 newborns had birth certificates with nonmissing GAB. Among singletons (3 501 693), median and mode GAB were both 39 weeks. Births with lower median GAB were from women with eclampsia (37 weeks) or receiving intensive care (37 weeks); newborns receiving intensive care (37 weeks); newborns with birth weight <2500 g (35 weeks), <1500 g (28 weeks), or <1000 g (25 weeks); and newborns not discharged alive (23 weeks). Among twins (112 633), median GAB was 36 weeks (mode, 37 weeks). Additional noteworthy groups were women with 0-6 prenatal visits (median, 34 weeks) or 7-8 prenatal visits (median, 35 weeks) or aged 15-19 years (median, 35 weeks).

CONCLUSIONS: Some maternal and infant groups had distinct GAB distributions in the United States. This information can be useful in estimating GAB when individual-level clinical estimates are not available, such as in database studies of medication use during pregnancy.

Share on: