Total medical care costs were studied prospectively from neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) discharge to 3 years of age for 60 children, 35 of whom had neurologic and/or developmental deficits detected immediately following NICU discharge and 25 children did not. At the end of the study period the children were classified as unhandicapped (group A), mildly handicapped (group B), or moderately-severely handicapped (group C). Medical costs are reported per infant per month following NICU discharge (mean ± SD). The outpatient costs in group A were $31 ± 23 as compared with $86 ± 93 in group B and $109 ± 59 in group C (A < B, A < C; P < .001). The greatest contributor to outpatient costs was occupational and physical therapy (with unproven efficiency to date). The inpatient costs were $31 ± 56 in group A, $328 ± 574 in group B, and $542 ± 737 in group C (A < C; P < .01). The US Department of Agriculture estimates of medical costs of raising a child at home ranges from $22 to $26.80 per month. The cost of raising one of our NICU infants in an institution was $1,216 per month. Children with and without neurodevelopmental deficits after NICU discharge have significantly higher medical costs than children without.
- Received December 12, 1986.
- Accepted May 27, 1987.
- Copyright © 1988 by the American Academy of Pediatrics