Study: Telemedicine Reduced Infant Mortality in Arkansas

The use of a telemedicine network successfully reduced the number of infants born with very low birth weights and was associated with a statewide drop in infant mortality, according to a study published in the Journal of Perinatology.

Researchers examined low birth rates and infant morbidity and mortality before and after the implementation of a telemedicine network across nine rural Arkansas hospitals between July 1, 2009, and March 31, 2010. The hospitals were selected for their high birth rates and lack of a neonatal intensive care unit.

Telemedicine was used to provide remote consults and education from specialists at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to improve neonatal care across the intervention hospitals.

Results showed a drop in deliveries of low-weight babies from 13.1 percent to 7 percent at the nine hospitals. Infant mortality also decreased at the hospitals (13 percent to 6.7 percent), and the intervention was associated with a statewide decline in infant mortality as well (8.5 to 7.0 deaths per 1,000 deliveries).

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