Low birth weight and length of hospital stay in infants - Tips from Other Journals

Date: Feb 1, 1994

Prolonged length of stay contributes to the high cost of neonatal intensive care units. However, little practical information concerning the relationship between low birth weight and length of hospital stay has been published. Rawlings and colleagues compiled data to examine the predictability of length of hospital stay on the basis of several factors.

Records were examined for surviving low-birth-weight infants delivered at a regional referral center. A total of 1,262 infants met the inclusion criteria of a birth weight less than 2,500 g (5 lb, 8 oz) and absence of congenital anomalies. Infants were discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit when they began to thrive on enteral feedings in an open crib and when they weighed a minimum of approximately 2,000 g (4 lb, 7 oz).

Birth weight-specific mortality was similar to other published rates. Data for mean length of stay fell within the range of previously published data. The relationship of length of stay to birth weight and gestational age were nonlinear.

The authors conclude that prediction of length of hospital stay in low-birth-weight infants is complicated by a number of variables. Birth weight and gestational age are semi-independent variables that exert a strong and predictable influence on the length of stay. Infants who have unusually severe or chronic disorders may be expected to have longer lengths of stay. Growth-retarded infants may be expected to have shorter lengths of stay, given their advanced maturity compared with their normally grown counterparts of the same birth weight. The authors developed a nomogram to help predict length of stay in low-birth-weight infants. (journal of Pediatrics, August 1993, vol. 123, p. 307)

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