Choosing the right hospital may save your baby's life

April 25, 2012

Choosing the right hospital may make the difference between life and death for very low birth weight infants, according to research led by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and released today in JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association.

In a comprehensive study of 72,235 infants born in 558 hospitals across the nation, the researchers found that babies cared for in hospitals with the Magnet credential were less likely to die, acquire a hospital-based infection, or suffer severe brain hemorrhage. While only 1.5 percent of births nationally are very low birth weight babies, weighing between 1 and 3.3 pounds, they account for more than half of all infant deaths. Nearly 16,000 VLBW infants died in 2007, most within the first month of life.

"Babies born in Magnet hospitals had 13 percent lower odds of death within the first week of life, 14 percent lower odds of infection, and 12 percent lower odds of hemorrhage," said lead author and nursing professor Eileen Lake, PhD, RN. "Surviving hemorrhage may have serious lifelong consequences for these infants, and can result in cerebral palsy, lower IQ, and developmental delays." Babies born in for-profit hospitals showed higher rates of infection, the researchers found, which doubles the infants' chances of dying; brain hemorrhage results in a six times greater risk of death.

The Magnet designation is given to hospitals after an extensive review by the American Nurses Credentialing Center for "quality patient care, nursing excellence, and innovations in professional nursing practice," the researchers wrote, noting that these tiniest of infants require nurses to make "complex assessments, implement highly intensive therapies, and make immediate adjustments dependent on infant response."

While only seven percent of US hospitals have the Magnet designation, one in five hospitals (20 percent) with a NICU have been awarded the credential. However, the study noted that twice as many white infants as black infants were born in Magnet hospitals.

"In absolute terms, the outcomes are 1 to 2 percentage points lower in Magnet hospitals, which translates to 300 infants each year who could be spared each of these severe consequences," said Dr. Lake. "Access to Magnet hospitals can literally make a life or death difference." The Magnet designation which refers to a hospital's ability to attract and retain nurses, can usually be found on a hospital's website or on the ANCC website.

The researchers studied premature infants weighing from 500 to 1500 grams at birth with the average being 1036 (2.2 pounds). Forty-seven percent were white; 29 percent were black, and 24 percent Hispanic, Asian or American Indian and were born in 2007 and 2008.
-end-
The team of researchers conducted phases of the research under the auspices of a $2.1 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research, one of the National Institutes of Health, and $300,000 from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

Related Infants Articles from Brightsurf:

Most infants are well even when moms are infected by COVID-19
Infants born to women with COVID-19 showed few adverse outcomes, according to the first report in the country of infant outcomes through eight weeks of age.

Probiotic may help treat colic in infants
Probiotics -- or 'good bacteria' -- have been used to treat infant colic with varying success.

Deaf infants' gaze behavior more advanced than that of hearing infants
Deaf infants who have been exposed to American Sign Language are better at following an adult's gaze than their hearing peers, supporting the idea that social-cognitive development is sensitive to different kinds of life experiences.

Initiating breastfeeding in vulnerable infants
The benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child are well-recognized, including for late preterm infants (LPI).

Young infants with fever may be more likely to develop infections
Infants with a high fever may be at increased risk for infections, according to research from Penn State College of Medicine.

Early term infants less likely to breastfeed
A new, prospective study provides evidence that 'early term' infants (those born at 37-38 weeks) are less likely than full-term infants to be breastfeed within the first hour and at one month after birth.

Infants are more likely to learn when with a peer
Researchers at the University of Connecticut and University of Washington looked at the mechanisms involved in language learning among nine-month-olds, the youngest population known to be studied in relation to on-screen learning.

Allergic reactions to foods are milder in infants
Majority of infants with food-induced anaphylaxis present with hives and vomiting, suggesting there is less concern for life-threatening response to early food introduction.

Non-dairy drinks can be dangerous for infants
A brief report published in Acta Paediatrica points to the dangers of replacing breast milk or infant formula with a non-dairy drink before one year of age.

Infants can't talk, but they know how to reason
A new study reveals that preverbal infants are able to make rational deductions, showing surprise when an outcome does not occur as expected.

Read More: Infants News and Infants Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.