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Identifying implausible gestational ages in preterm babies with Bayesian mixture models

Authors


  • Supporting information may be found in the online version of this article.

Correspondence to: Guangyu Zhang, National Center for Health Statistics, 3311 Toledo Road, Hyattsville, MD 20782, U.S.A.

E-mail: VHA1@cdc.gov

Abstract

Infant birth weight and gestational age are two important variables in obstetric research. The primary measure of gestational age used in US birth data is based on a mother's recall of her last menstrual period, which has been shown to introduce random or systematic errors. To mitigate some of those errors, Oja et al., Platt et al., and Tentoni et al. estimated the probabilities of gestational ages being misreported under the assumption that the distribution of infant birth weights for a true gestational age is approximately Gaussian. From this assumption, Oja et al. fitted a three-component mixture model, and Tentoni et al. and Platt et al. fitted two-component mixture models. We build on their methods and develop a Bayesian mixture model. We then extend our methods using reversible jump Markov chain Monte Carlo to incorporate the uncertainty in the number of components in the model. We conduct simulation studies and apply our methods to singleton births with reported gestational ages of 23–32 weeks using 2001–2008 US birth data. Results show that a three-component mixture model fits the birth data better for gestational ages reported as 25 weeks or less; and a two-component mixture model fits better for the higher gestational ages. Under the assumption that our Bayesian mixture models are appropriate for US birth data, our research provides useful statistical tools to identify records with implausible gestational ages, and the techniques can be used in part of a multiple-imputation procedure for missing and implausible gestational ages. Published 2012. This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

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