Rationale/Objective. Although the short-and long-term outcome of low birth weight neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) survivors has been extensively studied, much less information is available for normal birth weight (NBW) infants (greater than or equal to 2500 g) who require NICU care.
Methods. To address this issue, we retrospectively examined the neonatal hospitalizations and 6-month health status of 521 consecutive NBW admissions to a single NICU. Information on the neonatal hospitalization was obtained from a review of medical records. Postdischarge health status was collected by using telephone survey techniques.
Results. NBW infants comprised 88.1% of births in this hospital and 35.4% of NICU admissions during the study period. The in-hospital mortality rate for this group was 2%. The median length of stay was 7.7 days (range 1 to 110 days) with median hospital charges of $5222 (range $565 to $317,820). Only 59% of infants required active intensive care therapy; the remainder received only intensive monitoring. The need for intensive therapy on admission day along with the presence of prematurity and congenital anomalies were significant predictors of hospital charges (R2 = 0.31, P < .01). After initial discharge, 10.1% of these infants required rehospitalization in the first 6 to 8 months of life. The rate of readmission among infants with congenital anomalies was over 30%. In addition to its association with neonatal resource consumption, the presence of congenital anomalies along with low 5-minute Apgar scores was associated with higher postdischarge resource use, as measured by frequency of physician visits, need for special medical items, and rate of rehospitalization (P < .05).
Conclusions. NBW infants represent a significant percentage of NICU admissions, but for many of these patients NICU admission could be avoided if alternative care settings that provided intensive monitoring were available. In addition, these infants also incur higher rates of postdischarge use of medical care.
- Received March 21, 1995.
- Accepted July 19, 1995.
- Copyright © 1996 by the American Academy of Pediatrics