Study identifies risk factors associated with death of extremely low birth weight infants after NICU

February 9, 2012

Preterm infants born with extremely low birth weights have an increased risk of death during the first year of life. Although researchers have extensively studied risk factors that could contribute to the death of preterm infants, limited information is available after infants are released from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). A new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, identifies that African-American background, longer stay in the NICU, and poorer access to healthcare can increase the risk of death after being discharged from the NICU.

Lilia C. De Jesus, MD, from Wayne State University, and colleagues retrospectively examined 5364 preterm (<27 weeks' gestational age) infants with extremely low birth weights (<1000 g), born in 2000 through 2007 at Eunice Kennedy Shriver Neonatal Research Network sites. These infants were tracked from discharge from the NICU until 18-22 months corrected age.

Of the 4807 infants with whom the authors successfully followed-up, 107 infants died after discharge from the NICU (22.3 per 1000 extremely infants). The odds of death after NICU discharge were doubled in African-American infants (compared with other ), 3 times higher in infants who were in the NICU for ≥120 days, and 15 times higher if the maternal insurance status was unknown (compared with private insurance), which may indicate poorer access to healthcare. It is also noteworthy that maternal exposure to antibiotics during pregnancy decreased the risk of infant death.

The World Factbook ranks the United States' infant mortality as 48th worldwide (6.06 deaths per 1000 live births), which is higher than other developed countries. According to Dr. De Jesus, "Every effort should be made to identify and correct modifiable factors that may account for the increased risk of death after hospital discharge in these extremely premature infants." Dr. De Jesus continues, "We feel that information from our study can be used to develop interventions that may help health practitioners with the discharge and follow-up care of these high risk infants."

Explore further: SIDS link: Low blood pressure in preterm infants

More information: The study, reported in "Risk Factors for Post-NICU Discharge Mortality Among Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants" by Lilia C. De Jesus, MD, Athina Pappas, MD, Seetha Shankaran, MD, Douglas Kendrick, MStat, Abhik Das, PhD, Rosemary D. Higgins, MD, Edward F. Bell, MD, Barbara J. Stoll, MD, Abbot R. Laptook, MD, Michele C. Walsh, MD, MS, for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network, appears in The Journal of Pediatrics, DOI:10.1016/j.jpeds.2011.12.038

Related Stories

SIDS link: Low blood pressure in preterm infants

December 8, 2008

Scientists from Monash University, Melbourne have shown that infants born prematurely have lower blood pressure during sleep in the first six months of life, compared to healthy, full-term infants.

Neonatal intensive care units critical to infant survival

September 1, 2010

Very low birthweight and very preterm infants are more likely to die if they are not born at hospitals with neonatal intensive care units specially equipped to care for seriously ill newborns, in contrast to similar babies ...

Care of late-preterm preemies may be insufficient

January 3, 2011

In the last 15 years the U.S has seen a sharp increase in the number of babies born as late-preterm infants, between 34 and 37 weeks' gestation. This is approximately 400,000 children each year, comprising over 70 percent ...

Recommended for you

Bacteria in smokeless tobacco products may be a health concern

August 26, 2016

Several species of bacteria found in smokeless tobacco products have been associated with opportunistic infections, according to a paper published August 26 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American ...

Is tailgating toxic?

August 26, 2016

While tailgating this football season you may want to take a step back from the grill and generator—for your health.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.