Objective: To compare neonatal and maternal outcomes after 22- to 28-week delivery between cesarean and vaginal delivery after stratification by gestational age and fetal presentation.
Methods: This study was a repeated cross-sectional analysis using U.S. birth certificate data linked to infant death data from 2017 to 2020. We limited analyses to women with singleton pregnancies who gave birth at 22-28 weeks of gestation and whose neonates were admitted to the intensive care unit. Our primary outcome was neonatal death within 28 days. We also examined infant mortality within 1 year and severe maternal morbidity (SMM; any transfusion, unplanned hysterectomy, and intensive care unit admission). Outcomes were compared between cesarean and vaginal delivery after stratification by gestational age and fetal presentation. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to calculate adjusted odds ratios (vaginal delivery as a referent), controlling for potential confounders.
Results: Of 69,672 individuals with eligible deliveries, 1,740 (2.5%) delivered at 22 weeks of gestation, 6,155 (8.8%) delivered at 23 weeks, 9,341 (13.4%) delivered at 24 weeks, 10,516 (15.1%) delivered at 25 weeks, 11,994 (17.2%) delivered at 26 weeks, 13,662 (19.6%) delivered at 27 weeks, and 16,264 (23.3%) delivered at 28 weeks. In cephalic fetuses, cesarean delivery compared with vaginal delivery was associated with neonatal death and infant mortality at 24 weeks of gestation and greater (not significant at 22-23 weeks) and SMM in all gestational age groups. In contrast, in noncephalic fetuses, cesarean delivery compared with vaginal delivery was associated with decreased odds of neonatal death and infant mortality in all gestational age groups. Sample size for SMM in noncephalic fetuses precluded multivariable modeling.
Conclusion: Cesarean delivery in cephalic fetuses was associated with increased odds of adverse neonatal outcomes (24 weeks of gestation or greater) and SMM (all gestational age groups). Cesarean delivery was associated with decreased odds of neonatal death compared with vaginal delivery for noncephalic fetuses in all gestational age groups.