Premature babies are more likely to survive when they are born in high-level neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) than in hospitals without such facilities, and this benefit is considerably larger than previously reported.
The likelihood that an extremely premature baby will survive if born in a high-technology, high-volume hospital unit was already known, but the current study, the largest to date, revealed a stronger effect. Pediatric researchers who analyzed more than 1.3 million premature births over a 10-year span found that the survival benefits applied not only to extremely preterm babies, but also to moderately preterm newborns.
The research team performed a retrospective study of all hospital-based deliveries of infants with a gestational age between 23 and 37 weeks in Pennsylvania, California and Missouria total of over 1,328,000 births. The study focused on preterm deliveries in high-level NICUs, compared to preterm deliveries at all other hospitals.
"Prior studies from the early 1990s found increased survival rates of 30 to 50 percent among preterm infants delivered at high-level NICUs, compared to preterm infants delivered elsewhere," said study leader Scott A. Lorch, M.D., a neonatologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "However, our research found rates as high as 300 percent improvement, when our study design controlled for the effect of sicker patients who typically deliver at high-level NICUs." Complication rates were similar for both types of hospitals.
The retrospective study, which appeared online July 9 in the journal Pediatrics, analyzed records for all births occurring between 1995 and 2005 in Pennsylvania and California, and all births between 1995 and 2003 in Missouri. Lorch added that the results varied slightly among the states, possibly reflecting state-level differences in health policies, such as whether or not the state government designated hospitals within a regional perin
|Contact: Ashley Moore|
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia