Objective. There have been indications of a recent decrease in intubation rates of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants in Germany. We wanted to quantify this decrease and analyze its effect on clinical outcome.
Methods. Population-based data on the treatment and outcome at hospital discharge from a statewide quality assurance program were analyzed for 2001 VLBW infants (500 to 1499 g) born from 1992 to 1994 in Lower Saxony, North Germany.
Results. The proportion of patients not intubated and mechanically ventilated increased from 7% to 14% in infants less than 1000 g and from 28% to 44% in those greater than or equal to 1000 g (P < .02 and < .01, respectively). This increase was not associated with any significant increase in adverse outcome such as death, intraventricular hemorrhage, periventricular leucomalacia, or bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). Instead, there was an increase in the proportion of infants less than 1000 g who survived without BPD (from 38% in 1992 to 48% in 1994; P > .05) and a decrease in the proportion of infants greater than or equal to 1000 g in whom BPD developed (from 14% to 9%; P < .05).
Conclusions. The data from a statewide quality assurance program show a significant reduction in the aggressiveness of the treatment of VLBW infants, which was not associated with an increased mortality or morbidity. This observational study, however, cannot define whether a more selective approach to the intubation of VLBW infants will ultimately result in a better outcome. A randomized, controlled trial would be required to answer this clinically important question.
- Received December 15, 1995.
- Accepted February 21, 1996.
- Copyright © 1996 by the American Academy of Pediatrics