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The association of regional perinatal risk factors and neonatal intensive care capacity for Military Health System-insured newborns.

OBJECTIVE: To characterize hospitals where military-insured newborns received care and test the association of regional perinatal risk with neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) capacity.

STUDY DESIGN: We identified birth hospitals for live newborns October 2015-December 2018 (n = 296,568) and assigned newborns to health service areas (HSAs). Perinatal risk factors and the number of neonatal special care beds and neonatologists were calculated at HSA levels. Cross-sectional correlation analyses assessed perinatal risk factors and capacity across HSAs.

RESULTS: 27.0% (n = 10) of military birth hospitals had special care beds (intermediate and intensive) compared with 44.3% of civilian hospitals (n = 1224; p < 0.05). The number of special care beds and neonatologists per newborn varied more than twofold across regions and were only weakly associated with the proportion of higher risk newborns (R2  < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: The lack of meaningful association of regional perinatal risk with NICU capacity poses challenges for effective specialized care among military-associated newborns.

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