NICUs are admitting more normal birth weight and term babies: Is it a patient safety issue?

Neonatal intensive care units are admitting more babies of all sizes, meaning that NICUs are increasingly caring for normal birth weight and term infants, according to a study in JAMA Pediatrics. The authors raise the question of if such babies truly need care in this expensive, highly specialized care unit.

Wade Harrison and David Goodman, MD, of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy, looked at data from nearly 18 million live births in the U.S. from January 2007 through December 2012 in 38 states and the District of Columbia. They found NICU admissions increased 23 percent from 2007 through 2012. Additionally, the study revealed that nearly half of all NICU admissions by 2012 were for normal birth weight infants or full term babies.

Sign up for our FREE E-Weekly for more coverage like this sent to your inbox!

These babies may not need the level of care that the NICU was developed to provide, and caring for them in the NICU may result in unnecessary stress to the babies and their families.

"Spending time in a NICU is not the same as time spent at home or in a birthing pavilion. It's very stressful for both the infant and the family," said Mr. Harrison. "A NICU admission has risks and consequences for newborn and their families. There may be opportunities to provide great care in less intensive settings."

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars