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Performance of a postnatal metabolic gestational age algorithm: a retrospective validation study among ethnic subgroups in Canada


Objectives — Biological modelling of routinely collected newborn screening data has emerged as a novel method for deriving postnatal gestational age estimates. Validation of published models has previously been limited to cohorts largely consisting of infants of white Caucasian ethnicity. In this study, we sought to determine the validity of a published gestational age estimation algorithm among recent immigrants to Canada, where maternal landed immigrant status was used as a surrogate measure of infant ethnicity.

Design — We conducted a retrospective validation study in infants born in Ontario between April 2009 and September 2011.

Setting — Provincial data from Ontario, Canada were obtained from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

Participants — The dataset included 230 034 infants born to non-landed immigrants and 70 098 infants born to immigrant mothers. The five most common countries of maternal origin were India (n=10 038), China (n=7468), Pakistan (n=5824), The Philippines (n=5441) and Vietnam (n=1408). Maternal country of origin was obtained from Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Landed Immigrant Database.

Primary and Secondary Outcome Measures — Performance of a postnatal gestational age algorithm was evaluated across non-immigrant and immigrant populations.

Results — Root mean squared error (RMSE) of 1.05 weeks was observed for infants born to non-immigrant mothers, whereas RMSE ranged from 0.98 to 1.15 weeks among infants born to immigrant mothers. Area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for distinguishing term versus preterm infants (≥37 vs <37 weeks gestational age or >34 vs ≤34 weeks gestational age) was 0.958 and 0.986, respectively, in the non-immigrant subgroup and ranged from 0.927 to 0.964 and 0.966 to 0.99 in the immigrant subgroups.

Conclusions — Algorithms for postnatal determination of gestational age may be further refined by development and validation of region or ethnicity-specific models. However, our results provide reassurance that an algorithm developed from Ontario-born infant cohorts performs well across a range of ethnicities and maternal countries of origin without modification.



Hawken S, Ducharme R, Murphy MSQ, Atkinson KM, Potter BK, Chakraborty P, Wilson K. BMJ Open. 2017; 7(9):e015615.

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