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The gestational age of a newborn is the length of his or her gestation up to delivery. Now of course, gestation time is what it is; we just have no way of being very certain how long most babies actually spent in the womb. We are interested in this concept only because it helps in predicting what problems a newborn might be prone to develop. For example, 40 week gestation term babies almost never develop respiratory distress syndrome, 24 week gestation prematures essentially all do. Also, gestational age assessment helps us in understanding what went on in utero. When a 38 week gestation baby is growth retarded, for example, it implies a poor pregnancy, with possible placental problems or significant maternal health problems, maternal smoking, and so forth.
Gestational age is determined by several means. In decreasing order of accuracy, they are