Background: Very preterm infants born outside tertiary centers are at higher risks of adverse outcomes than inborn infants. Regionalization of perinatal care has been introduced worldwide to improve outcomes.
Objective: To compare the risk-adjusted outcomes of both inborn and outborn infants cared for in tertiary neonatal intensive care units in Australia and New Zealand and in Canada.
Methods: Deidentified data of infants <32 weeks' gestational age from the 29 Australian and New Zealand Neonatal Network units (ANZNN; n = 9,893) and 26 Canadian Neonatal Network units (CNN; n = 7,133) between 2005 and 2007 were analyzed for predischarge adverse outcomes.
Results: ANZNN had lower rates of outborns compared to CNN (13 vs. 19%), particularly of late admissions (>2 days of age; 5.8 vs. 22.2% of outborns) who had high morbidity rates. After adjusting for confounding variables including gestation, ANZNN inborn infants had lower odds of chronic lung disease [CLD; 17.0 vs. 23.3%; adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 0.70, 95% CI: 0.64-0.77], severe neurological injuries on ultrasound (SNI; 4.1 vs. 6.7%; AOR = 0.62, 95% CI: 0.53-0.73), severe retinopathy (5.6 vs. 7%; AOR = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.59-0.84) and necrotizing enterocolitis (3.5 vs. 5.4%; AOR = 0.67, 95% CI: 0.56-0.79), but no difference in mortality odds. After excluding the late outborn admissions, ANZNN outborns had lower odds of SNI (AOR = 0.43, 95% CI: 0.32-0.58) and CLD (AOR = 0.63, 95% CI: 0.49-0.81) than CNN.
Conclusions: ANZNN inborn and early admitted outborn infants had lower odds of neonatal morbidities than their CNN counterparts. However, compared to ANZNN, the higher CNN rates of outborns and their late admissions are likely related to the differences in regionalization and referral practices, and may explain differences in outcomes.
- Neonatal intensive care unit