Workload and short-term outcome of babies weighing 2,500 grams or more at birth admitted to the paediatric unit of the Rotunda Hospital

T Rohininath, L A O'Connell, K Sheehan, D Corcoran, T G Matthews, T A Clarke
Journal of Maternal-fetal & Neonatal Medicine 2005, 17 (2): 139-43

BACKGROUND: Audit is important in ensuring adequate use of resources and maintaining optimum standards of care. Most of the emphasis in neonatal audit is focused on very low birth weight infants. However, term and near-term infants account for a significant proportion of the workload in neonatal units and warrant regular audit. In addition, audit of these infants may be useful as a marker of the organisation of the perinatal service.

METHODS: A retrospective audit was performed of all infants with birth weights greater than or equal to 2,500 grams admitted to the neonatal department in the first week of life over a two-year period, examining mode of delivery, level of care, duration of stay, diagnosis and short-term outcome.

RESULTS: Eight hundred and seventy infants were admitted greater than or equal to 2,500 grams birth weight, 54% of all neonatal admissions, during the study period. Six hundred and eighty seven of these infants were admitted in the first week of life and were included in the study; this was 5.8% of infants born with a birth weight 2500 grams or more. Infants born by caesarean section were twice as likely to require admission (9.8%) compared with infants born by vaginal delivery (4.5%). The median length of stay was 3 days (3 hours to 45 days). One hundred and six (15.4%) infants required level 1 or level 2 care. One hundred and eleven infants received normal care, only. Most of these infants were admitted for maternal or social reasons. Other common reasons for admission were jaundice, respiratory disease, neonatal abstinence syndrome and congenital abnormality. Forty-one infants required transfer to another hospital, most commonly for surgical or cardiac conditions. Six infants died after admission. However, only one normally formed infant delivered in our hospital died prior to discharge or transfer. One infant was born at home and four infants who had a lethal congenital abnormality are known to have died following transfer.

CONCLUSION: Term and near-term infants account for a significant proportion of neonatal admissions and deserve regular audit. Many admissions are potentially avoidable. Survival for infants weighing 2,500 grams or greater is excellent. Only one normally formed infant died following admission during the study period. The number of "social" admissions of "well" infants highlighted by this study reflects poorly on the services available for well infant whose mothers are unable to care for them for whatever reason. We recommend regular audit of these infants in order to ensure efficient use of neonatal resources and to ensure optimum levels of neonatal intensive care.

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