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1.  Inhaled Nitric Oxide Usage in Preterm Infants in the NICHD Neonatal Research Network: Inter-site Variation and Propensity Evaluation 
The use of inhaled nitric oxide (iNO) in preterm infants remains controversial. In October 2010, an NIH consensus development conference cautioned against use of iNO in preterm infants.
1) To determine prevalence and variability in use of iNO in the NICHD Neonatal Research Network (NRN) before and after the consensus conference and 2) separately, to examine associations between iNO use and severe BPD or death.
The NICHD NRN Generic Database collects data including iNO use on very preterm infants. A total of 13 centers contributed data across the time period 2008–2011. Infants exposed or not to iNO were compared using logistic regression, which included factors related to risk as well as their likelihood of being exposed to iNO.
A total of 4,885 infants were assessed between 2008–2011; 128 (2.6%) received iNO before Day 7, 140 (2.9%) between Day 7 and 28 and 47 (1.0%) at >28 days. Center-specific iNO use during 2008–2010 ranged from 21.9% to 0.4%; 12 of 13 sites reduced usage and overall NRN iNO usage decreased from 4.6% to 1.6% (p<0.001) in 2011. Use of iNO started between Day 7 and Day 14 was more prevalent among younger infants with more severe courses in Week 1 and associated with increased risk of severe BPD or death (OR 2.24;95% CI 1.23–4.07).
The variability and total use of iNO decreased in 2011 compared to 2008–2010. iNO administration started at ≥Day 7 was associated with more severe outcomes compared to infants without iNO exposure.
PMCID: PMC4323079  PMID: 24901452
Inhaled nitric oxide; bronchopulmonary dysplasia; extremely premature infant
2.  Chorioamnionitis and Early Childhood Outcomes among Extremely Low-Gestational-Age Neonates 
JAMA pediatrics  2014;168(2):137-147.
Chorioamnionitis is strongly linked to preterm birth and to neonatal infection. The association between histological and clinical chorioamnionitis and cognitive, behavioral and neurodevelopmental outcomes among extremely preterm neonates is less clear. We evaluated the impact of chorioamnionitis on 18-22 month neurodevelopmental outcomes in a contemporary cohort of extremely preterm neonates.
To compare the neonatal and neurodevelopmental outcomes of three groups of extremely-low-gestational-age infants with increasing exposure to perinatal inflammation: no chorioamnionitis, histological chorioamnionitis alone, or histological plus clinical chorioamnionitis.
Longitudinal observational study.
Sixteen centers of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network.
2390 extremely preterm infants born <27 weeks' gestational age between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2008 with placental histopathology and 18-22 months' corrected age follow-up data were eligible.
Main exposure
Main Outcome Measures
Outcomes included cerebral palsy, gross motor functional limitation, behavioral scores (according to the Brief Infant-Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment), cognitive and language scores (according to the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, 3rd-Edition) and composite measures of death/neurodevelopmental impairment. Multivariable logistic and linear regression models were developed to assess the association between chorioamnionitis and outcomes while controlling for important variables known at birth.
Neonates exposed to chorioamnionitis had a lower gestational age (GA) and had higher rates of early-onset sepsis and severe periventricular-intraventricular hemorrhage as compared with unexposed neonates. In multivariable models evaluating death and neurodevelopmental outcomes, inclusion of gestational age in the model diminished the association between chorioamnionitis and adverse outcomes. Still, histological+clinical chorioamnionitis was associated with increased risk of cognitive impairment as compared with no chorioamnionitis (Adjusted OR 2.4, [1.3- 4.3] without GA; Adjusted OR 2.0, [1.1-3.6] with GA as a covariate). Histological chorioamnionitis alone was associated with lower odds of death/neurodevelopmental impairment as compared with histological+clinical chorioamnionitis (Adjusted OR 0.68, [0.52-0.89] without GA; 0.66, [0.49-0.89] with GA). Risk of behavioral problems did not differ statistically between groups.
Conclusions and Relevance
Antenatal exposure to chorioamnionitis is associated with altered odds of cognitive impairment and death/neurodevelopmental impairment in extremely preterm infants.
PMCID: PMC4219500  PMID: 24378638
chorioamnionitis; preterm; neurodevelopmental impairment; outcome
3.  Death or Neurodevelopmental Impairment at 18 To 22 Months in a Randomized Trial of Early Dexamethasone to Prevent Death or Chronic Lung Disease in Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants 
The Journal of pediatrics  2013;164(1):34-39.e2.
To evaluate the incidence of death or neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) at 18 to 22 months corrected age in subjects enrolled in a trial of early dexamethasone treatment to prevent death or chronic lung disease in extremely low birth weight infants.
Evaluation of infants at 18 to 22 months corrected age included anthropomorphic measurements, a standard neurological examination, and the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II, including the Mental Developmental Index (MDI) and the Psychomotor Developmental Index (PDI). NDI was defined as moderate or severe cerebral palsy, MDI or PDI less than 70, blindness, or hearing impairment.
Death or NDI at 18 to 22 months corrected age was similar in the dexamethasone and placebo groups (65 vs 66 percent, p= 0.99 among those with known outcome). The proportion of survivors with NDI was also similar, as were mean values for weight, length, and head circumference and the proportion of infants with poor growth (50 vs 41 percent, p=0.42 for weight less than 10th percentile). Forty nine percent of infants in the placebo group received treatment with corticosteroid compared to 32% in the dexamethasone group (p=0.02).
The risk of death or NDI and rate of poor growth were high but similar in the dexamethasone and placebo groups. The lack of a discernible effect of early dexamethasone on neurodevelopmental outcome may be due to frequent clinical corticosteroid use in the placebo group.
PMCID: PMC4120744  PMID: 23992673
neurodevelopmental outcome; growth; bronchopulmonary dysplasia; cerebral palsy; neonatal follow-up
4.  Outcomes of Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants with Acidosis at Birth 
To test the hypothesis that acidosis at birth is associated with the combined primary outcome of death or neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) in extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants, and to develop a predictive model of death/NDI exploring perinatal acidosis as a predictor variable.
The study population consisted of ELBW infants born between 2002-2007 at NICHD Neonatal Research Network hospitals. Infants with cord blood gas data and documentation of either mortality prior to discharge or 18-22 month neurodevelopmental outcomes were included. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to determine the contribution of perinatal acidosis, defined as a cord blood gas with a pH<7 or base excess (BE)<-12, to death/NDI in ELBW infants. In addition, a multivariable model predicting death/NDI was developed.
3979 patients were identified of whom 249 had a cord gas pH<7 or BE<-12 mEq/L. 2124 patients (53%) had the primary outcome of death/NDI. After adjustment for confounding variables, pH<7 and BE<-12 mEq/L were each significantly associated with death/NDI (OR=2.5[1.6,4.2]; and OR=1.5[1.1,2.0], respectively). However, inclusion of pH or BE did not improve the ability of the multivariable model to predict death/NDI.
Perinatal acidosis is significantly associated with death/NDI in ELBW infants. Perinatal acidosis is infrequent in ELBW infants, however, and other factors are more important in predicting death/NDI.
PMCID: PMC4274605  PMID: 24554564
Cord blood gas; Premature infant; Preterm infant; Neurodevelopmental impairment
5.  Immunogenicity of Haemophilus influenzae Type b Protein Conjugate Vaccines in Very Low Birth Weight Infants 
PMCID: PMC3960569  PMID: 24569312
Infant; premature; infant; very low birth weight; Haemophilus influenzae vacines; immunization; vaccines
6.  Incidence, management and outcomes of cardiovascular insufficiency in critically ill term and late preterm newborn infants 
American journal of perinatology  2014;31(11):947-956.
To characterize the incidence, management and short term outcomes of cardiovascular insufficiency (CVI) in mechanically ventilated newborns, evaluating 4 separate pre-specified definitions.
Study Design
Multicenter, prospective cohort study of infants ≥34 weeks gestational age (GA) and on mechanical ventilation during the first 72 hours. CVI was prospectively defined as either (1) mean arterial pressure (MAP)
Of 647 who met inclusion criteria, 419 (65%) met ≥1 definition of CVI. Of these, 98% received fluid boluses, 36% inotropes and 17% corticosteroids. Of treated infants, 46% did not have CVI as defined by a MAP < GA ± signs of inadequate perfusion. Inotrope therapy was associated with increased mortality (11.1% vs. 1.3%; P < 0.05).
More than half of the infants met at least one definition of CVI. However, almost half of the treated infants met none of the definitions. Inotropic therapy was associated with increased mortality. These findings can help guide the design of future studies of CVI in newborns.
PMCID: PMC4127379  PMID: 24515617
blood pressure; cardiovascular insufficiency; mechanical ventilation; inotrope; fluid bolus; glucocorticoid; outcomes; newborn
The Journal of pediatrics  2013;163(4):961-967.e3.
Candida remains an important cause of late-onset infection in preterm infants. Mortality and neurodevelopmental outcome of extremely low birthweight (ELBW) infants enrolled in the Candida study was evaluated based on infection status.
Study design
ELBW infants born at NICHD Neonatal Research Network (NRN) centers between March 2004 and July 2007 screened for suspected sepsis were eligible for inclusion in the Candida study. Primary outcome data for neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) or death were available for 1317/1515 (90%) of the infants enrolled in the Candida study. The Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID)-II or the BSID-III was administered at 18 months adjusted age. A secondary comparison with 864 infants registered with NRN enrolled during the same cohort never screened for sepsis and therefore not eligible for the Candida study was performed.
Among ELBW infants enrolled in the Candida study, 31% with Candida and 31% with late-onset non-Candida sepsis had NDI at 18 months. Infants with Candida sepsis and/or meningitis had an increased risk of death and were more likely to have the composite outcome of death and/or NDI compared with uninfected infants in adjusted analysis. Compared with infants in the NRN registry never screened for sepsis, overall risk for death were similar but those with Candida infection were more likely to have NDI (OR 1.83 (1.01,3.33, p=0.047).
In this cohort of ELBW infants, those with infection and/or meningitis were at increased risk for death and/or NDI. This risk was highest among those with Candida sepsis and/or meningitis.
PMCID: PMC3786056  PMID: 23726546
Candida; Neonatal sepsis; Neurodevelopmental and Prematurity
To examine changes in arterial blood pressure (ABP) after birth in extremely preterm infants.
Study Design
Prospective observational study of infants 230/7 – 266/7 weeks gestational age (GA). Antihypotensive therapy use and ABP measurements were recorded for the first 24 hours.
A cohort of 367 infants had 18,709 ABP measurements recorded. ABP decreased for the first three hours, reached a nadir at 4 – 5 hours, then increased at an average rate of 0.2 mmHg / hour. The rise in ABP from hour 4 – 24 was similar for untreated infants (n=164) and infants given any antihypotensive therapy (n=203), a fluid bolus (n=135), or dopamine (n=92). GA specific trends were similar. ABP tended to be lower as GA decreased, but varied widely at each GA.
Arterial blood pressure increased spontaneously over the first 24 postnatal hours for extremely preterm infants. The rate of rise in ABP did not change with antihypotensive therapy.
PMCID: PMC3982788  PMID: 24503912
Antihypotensive therapy; fluid bolus; dopamine
The Journal of pediatrics  2013;163(3):680-685.e3.
To evaluate the relationship between abnormal feeding patterns and language performance on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-III (BSID-III) at 18–22 months adjusted age among a cohort of extremely premature infants.
Study design
This is a descriptive analysis of 1477 preterm infants born ≤ 26 weeks gestation or enrolled in a clinical trial between January 1, 2006 and March 18, 2008 at a NICHD Neonatal Research Network center who completed the 18 month Neurodevelopmental Follow-Up assessment. At 18–22 months adjusted age, a comprehensive neurodevelopmental evaluation was performed by certified examiners including the Receptive and Expressive Language Subscales of the BSID-III and a standardized adjusted age feeding behaviors and nutritional intake. Data were analyzed using bivariate and multilevel linear and logistic regression modeling.
Abnormal feeding behaviors were reported in 193 (13%) of these infants at 18–22 months adjusted age. Abnormal feeding patterns, days of mechanical ventilation, hearing impairment and Gross Motor Functional Classification Score ≥ 2 each independently predicted lower composite language scores.
At 18 months adjusted age, premature infants with a history of feeding difficulties are more likely to have language delay. Neuromotor impairment and days of mechanical ventilation are both important risk factors associated with these outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3755022  PMID: 23582139
Pediatric research  2013;75(3):424-430.
Adults with the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) alleles e4 and e2 are at high risk of poor neurologic outcome after brain injury. The e4 allele has been associated with cerebral palsy and the e2 allele has been associated with worse neurologic outcome with congenital heart disease. This study was done to test the hypothesis that APOE genotype is associated with outcome among neonates who survive after hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).
We conducted a cohort study of infants who survived HIE and had 18 – 22 month standardized neurodevelopmental evaluations to assess associations between disability and APOE genotypes e3/e3, e4/-, and e2/-
139 survivors were genotyped. 86 (62%) were e3/e3, 41 (29%) were e4/-, and 14 (10%) were e2/-. 129 infants had genotype and follow-up data; 26% had moderate or severe disabilities. Disability prevalence was 30% and 19% among those with and without e3/e3 genotype, 25% and 26% among those with and without the e2 allele, and 18% and 29% among those with and without the e4 allele. None of the differences were statistically significant. Cerebral palsy prevalence was also similar among genotype groups.
Disability was not associated with APOE genotype in this cohort of HIE survivors.
PMCID: PMC4095992  PMID: 24322171
To test the hypothesis that the proportion of endotracheal intubation (ETI) in the delivery room (DR) decreased in Neonatal Research Network (NRN) centres after the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development NRN Surfactant, Positive Pressure, and Oxygenation Randomised Trial (SUPPORT).
Retrospective cohort study using the prospective NRN generic database.
Eleven centres that participated in the SUPPORT trial and remained part of the NRN. Preterm neonates 240/7–276/7 weeks’ gestational age enrolled in the SUPPORT trial were randomised to: (1) DR continuous positive airway pressure or DR ETI with early surfactant administration; and (2) oxygen saturation targets of 85–89% or 91–95%. The prior NRN feasibility trial had assessed the feasibility of randomisation to continuous positive airway pressure versus ETI.
Infants 240/7–276/7 weeks’ gestational age, excluding infants with syndromes or major malformations and those on comfort care only.
Main outcome measure
Proportion of DR ETI.
The proportion of DR ETI decreased significantly in the group of infants from centres that had not participated in the feasibility trial (91% before vs 75% after SUPPORT, adjusted relative risk 0.86, 95% CI 0.83–0.89, p<0.0001) but not in the group of infants from the other centres, where the proportion of ETI was already lower prior to initiation of the SUPPORT trial (61% before vs 58% after SUPPORT, adjusted relative risk 0.96, 95% CI 0.89 to 1.05, p=0.40).
This study shows that DR ETI changed after SUPPORT only in NRN centres that had not participated in a similar trial.
PMCID: PMC4134421  PMID: 24876196
Severe intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) is an important prognostic variable in extremely preterm (EPT) infants. We examined imaging and clinical variables that predict outcomes in EPT infants with severe ICH.
Study design
Retrospective analysis of 353 EPT infants with severe ICH. Outcomes were compared by examining: i) unilateral vs. bilateral ICH; and ii) presence vs. absence of hemorrhagic parenchymal infarction (HPI). Regression analyses identified variables associated with death or neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI).
Bilateral ICH and HPI had higher rates of adverse outcomes and were independently associated with death/NDI. HPI was the most important variable for infants of lower birth weight, and bilateral ICH for larger infants. For infants surviving to 36 weeks, shunt placement was most associated with death/NDI.
Bilateral ICH and the presence of HPI in EPT infants with severe ICH are associated with death/NDI, though the importance depends on birth weight and survival to 36 weeks.
PMCID: PMC4143234  PMID: 24370654
intraventricular hemorrhage; neurodevelopmental impairment; extremely low birth weight; cranial ultrasound
Pediatrics  2013;132(1):e175-e184.
To examine factors affecting center differences in mortality for extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants.
We analyzed data for 5418 ELBW infants born at 16 Neonatal Research Network centers during 2006–2009. The primary outcomes of early mortality (≤12 hours after birth) and in-hospital mortality were assessed by using multilevel hierarchical models. Models were developed to investigate associations of center rates of selected interventions with mortality while adjusting for patient-level risk factors. These analyses were performed for all gestational ages (GAs) and separately for GAs <25 weeks and ≥25 weeks.
Early and in-hospital mortality rates among centers were 5% to 36% and 11% to 53% for all GAs, 13% to 73% and 28% to 90% for GAs <25 weeks, and 1% to 11% and 7% to 26% for GAs ≥25 weeks, respectively. Center intervention rates significantly predicted both early and in-hospital mortality for infants <25 weeks. For infants ≥25 weeks, intervention rates did not predict mortality. The variance in mortality among centers was significant for all GAs and outcomes. Center use of interventions and patient risk factors explained some but not all of the center variation in mortality rates.
Center intervention rates explain a portion of the center variation in mortality, especially for infants born at <25 weeks’ GA. This finding suggests that deaths may be prevented by standardizing care for very early GA infants. However, differences in patient characteristics and center intervention rates do not account for all of the observed variability in mortality; and for infants with GA ≥25 weeks these differences account for only a small part of the variation in mortality.
PMCID: PMC3691533  PMID: 23753096
mortality rates; outcome; NICU; preterm infants; extremely preterm infants
Pediatrics  2013;132(1):49-61.
Birth defects (BDs) are an important cause of infant mortality and disproportionately occur among low birth weight infants. We determined the prevalence of BDs in a cohort of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants cared for at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network (NRN) centers over a 10-year period and examined the relationship between anomalies, neonatal outcomes, and surgical care.
Infant and maternal data were collected prospectively for infants weighing 401 to 1500 g at NRN sites between January 1, 1998, and December 31, 2007. Poisson regression models were used to compare risk of outcomes for infants with versus without BDs while adjusting for gestational age and other characteristics.
A BD was present in 1776 (4.8%) of the 37 262 infants in our VLBW cohort. Yearly prevalence of BDs increased from 4.0% of infants born in 1998 to 5.6% in 2007, P < .001. Mean gestational age overall was 28 weeks, and mean birth weight was 1007 g. Infants with BDs were more mature but more likely to be small for gestational age compared with infants without BDs. Chromosomal and cardiovascular anomalies were most frequent with each occurring in 20% of affected infants. Mortality was higher among infants with BDs (49% vs 18%; adjusted relative risk: 3.66 [95% confidence interval: 3.41–3.92]; P < .001) and varied by diagnosis. Among those surviving >3 days, more infants with BDs underwent major surgery (48% vs 13%, P < .001).
Prevalence of BDs increased during the 10 years studied. BDs remain an important cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality among VLBW infants.
PMCID: PMC3691532  PMID: 23733791
birth defects; prematurity; Neonatal Research Network; low birth weight
To determine if extremely low birth weight infants with surgical necrotizing enterocolitis have a higher risk of death or neurodevelopmental impairment and neurodevelopmental impairment among survivors (secondary outcome) at 18–22 months corrected age compared to infants with spontaneous intestinal perforation and infants without necrotizing enterocolitis or spontaneous intestinal perforation.
Study Design
Retrospective analysis of the Neonatal Research Network very low birth weight registry, evaluating extremely low birth weight infants born between 2000–2005. The study infants were designated into 3 groups: 1) Spontaneous intestinal perforation without necrotizing enterocolitis; 2) Surgical necrotizing enterocolitis (Bell's stage III); and 3) Neither spontaneous intestinal perforation nor necrotizing enterocolitis. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to evaluate the association between the clinical group and death or neurodevelopmental impairment, controlling for multiple confounding factors including center.
Infants with surgical necrotizing enterocolitis had the highest rate of death prior to hospital discharge (53.5%) and death or neurodevelopmental impairment (82.3%) compared to infants in the spontaneous intestinal perforation group (39.1% and 79.3%) and no necrotizing enterocolitis/no spontaneous intestinal perforation group (22.1% and 53.3%; p<0.001). Similar results were observed for neurodevelopmental impairment among survivors. On logistic regression analysis, both spontaneous intestinal perforation and surgical necrotizing enterocolitis were associated with increased risk of death or neurodevelopmental impairment (adjusted OR 2.21, 95% CI: 1.5, 3.2 and adjusted OR 2.11, 95% CI: 1.5, 2.9 respectively) and neurodevelopmental impairment among survivors (adjusted OR 2.17, 95% CI: 1.4, 3.2 and adjusted OR 1.70, 95% CI: 1.2, 2.4 respectively).
Spontaneous intestinal perforation and surgical necrotizing enterocolitis are associated with a similar increase in the risk of death or neurodevelopmental impairment and neurodevelopmental impairment among extremely low birth weight survivors at 18–22 months corrected age.
PMCID: PMC3877158  PMID: 24135709
spontaneous intestinal perforation; necrotizing enterocolitis; extremely low birth weight; neurodevelopmental impairment
The Journal of pediatrics  2013;163(1):55-60.e1-3.
To determine whether small for gestational age (SGA) infants <27 weeks gestation is associated with mortality, morbidity, growth and neurodevelopmental impairment at 18–22 months’ corrected age (CA).
Study design
This was a retrospective cohort study from National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network’s Generic Database and Follow-up Studies. Infants born at <27 weeks’ gestation from January 2006 to July 2008 were included. SGA was defined as birth weight <10th percentile for gestational age by the Olsen growth curves. Infants with birth weight ≥10th percentile for gestational age were classified as non-SGA. Maternal and infant characteristics, neonatal outcomes and neurodevelopmental data were compared between the groups. Neurodevelopmental impairment was defined as any of the following: cognitive score <70 on BSID III, moderate or severe cerebral palsy, bilateral hearing loss (+/− amplification) or blindness (vision <20/200). Logistic regression analysis evaluated the association between SGA status and death or neurodevelopmental impairment.
There were 385 SGA and 2586 non-SGA infants. Compared with the non-SGA group, mothers of SGA infants were more likely to have higher level of education, prenatal care, cesarean delivery, pregnancy-induced hypertension and antenatal corticosteroid exposure. SGA infants were more likely to have postnatal growth failure, a higher mortality and to have received prolonged mechanical ventilation and postnatal steroids. SGA status was associated with higher odds of death or neurodevelopmental impairment [OR 3.91 (95% CI: 2.91–5.25), P<0.001].
SGA status among infants <27 weeks’ gestation was associated with an increased risk for postnatal steroid use, mortality, growth failure and neurodevelopmental impairment at 18–22 months’ CA.
PMCID: PMC3947828  PMID: 23415614
extremely preterm infants; neurodevelopmental follow-up
The Journal of pediatrics  2013;162(6):1120-1124.e1.
To describe and compare incidence of late-onset sepsis (LOS) and demographic and clinical characteristics associated with LOS in very low birth weight (VLBW) infants from singleton and multiple births and to examine the heritability in susceptibility to LOS among VLBW twins by comparing same-sex with unlike-sex twin pairs.
Study design
We studied infants with birth weight 401–1500 grams cared for at clinical centers of the NICHD Neonatal Research Network 2002–2008. Only the first episode of LOS was examined. Stepwise logistic regression models were fitted separately for singleton and multiple pregnancies to examine the maternal and neonatal factors associated with LOS. LOS due to only gram-negative bacteria among singleton and multiple pregnancies was also examined in separate models. The heritability of LOS was estimated by examining concordance of LOS between twins from same-sex and unlike-sex pairs.
LOS occurred in 25.0% (3797/15,178) of singleton and 22.6% (1196/5294) of multiple VLBW infants. Coagulase-negative staphylococci were the most common infecting organisms, accounting for 53.2% of all LOS episodes in singletons and 49.2% in multiples. E. coli and Klebsiella species were the most commonly isolated gram-negative organisms, and Candida albicans was the most commonly isolated fungus. Concordance of LOS was not significantly different between same-sex and unlike-sex twin pairs.
LOS remains a common problem in VLBW infants. The incidence of LOS is similar for singleton and multiple infants. Similar concordance of LOS in same-sex and unlike-sex twin pairs provided no evidence that susceptibility to LOS among VLBW infants is genetically determined.
PMCID: PMC3633723  PMID: 23324523
Heredity; preterm infants; twins
Pediatrics  2013;131(6):e1865-e1873.
To investigate the relationships among blood pressure (BP) values, antihypotensive therapies, and in-hospital outcomes to identify a BP threshold below which antihypotensive therapies may be beneficial.
Prospective observational study of infants 230/7 to 266/7 weeks’ gestational age. Hourly BP values and antihypotensive therapy use in the first 24 hours were recorded. Low BP was investigated by using 15 definitions. Outcomes were examined by using regression analysis controlling for gestational age, the number of low BP values, and illness severity.
Of 367 infants enrolled, 203 (55%) received at least 1 antihypotensive therapy. Treated infants were more likely to have low BP by any definition (P < .001), but for the 15 definitions of low BP investigated, therapy was not prescribed to 3% to 49% of infants with low BP and, paradoxically, was administered to 28% to 41% of infants without low BP. Treated infants were more likely than untreated infants to develop severe retinopathy of prematurity (15% vs 8%, P = .03) or severe intraventricular hemorrhage (22% vs 11%, P < .01) and less likely to survive (67% vs 78%, P = .02). However, with regression analysis, there were no significant differences between groups in survival or in-hospital morbidity rates.
Factors other than BP contributed to the decision to use antihypotensive therapies. Infant outcomes were not improved with antihypotensive therapy for any of the 15 definitions of low BP investigated.
PMCID: PMC3666108  PMID: 23650301
extremely preterm infant; antihypotensive therapy; blood pressure; hypotension
The Journal of pediatrics  2013;162(5):942-948.e3.
To examine whether preterm very low birth weight (VLBW) infants have an increased risk of late-onset sepsis (LOS) following early-onset sepsis (EOS).
Study design
Retrospective analysis of VLBW infants (401-1500 g) born September 1998 through December 2009 who survived >72 hours and were cared for within the NICHD Neonatal Research Network. Sepsis was defined by growth of bacteria or fungi in a blood culture obtained ≤72 hr of birth (EOS) or >72 hr (LOS) and antimicrobial therapy for ≥5 days or death <5 d while receiving therapy. Regression models were used to assess risk of death or LOS by 120d and LOS by 120d among survivors to discharge or 120d, adjusting for gestational age and other covariates.
Of 34,396 infants studied 504 (1.5%) had EOS. After adjustment, risk of death or LOS by 120d did not differ overall for infants with EOS compared with those without EOS [RR:0.99 (0.89-1.09)] but was reduced in infants born at <25wk gestation [RR:0.87 (0.76-0.99), p=0.048]. Among survivors, no difference in LOS risk was found overall for infants with versus without EOS [RR:0.88 (0.75-1.02)], but LOS risk was shorter in infants with BW 401-750 g who had EOS [RR:0.80 (0.64-0.99), p=0.047].
Risk of LOS after EOS was not increased in VLBW infants. Surprisingly, risk of LOS following EOS appeared to be reduced in the smallest, most premature infants, underscoring the need for age-specific analyses of immune function.
PMCID: PMC3622770  PMID: 23295144
Very low birth weight; early-onset sepsis; late-onset sepsis
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(4):e1001633.
Radek Bukowski and colleagues conducted a case control study in 59 US hospitals to determine the relationship between fetal growth and stillbirth, and find that both restrictive and excessive growth could play a role.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Stillbirth is strongly related to impaired fetal growth. However, the relationship between fetal growth and stillbirth is difficult to determine because of uncertainty in the timing of death and confounding characteristics affecting normal fetal growth.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a population-based case–control study of all stillbirths and a representative sample of live births in 59 hospitals in five geographic areas in the US. Fetal growth abnormalities were categorized as small for gestational age (SGA) (<10th percentile) or large for gestational age (LGA) (>90th percentile) at death (stillbirth) or delivery (live birth) using population, ultrasound, and individualized norms. Gestational age at death was determined using an algorithm that considered the time-of-death interval, postmortem examination, and reliability of the gestational age estimate. Data were weighted to account for the sampling design and differential participation rates in various subgroups. Among 527 singleton stillbirths and 1,821 singleton live births studied, stillbirth was associated with SGA based on population, ultrasound, and individualized norms (odds ratio [OR] [95% CI]: 3.0 [2.2 to 4.0]; 4.7 [3.7 to 5.9]; 4.6 [3.6 to 5.9], respectively). LGA was also associated with increased risk of stillbirth using ultrasound and individualized norms (OR [95% CI]: 3.5 [2.4 to 5.0]; 2.3 [1.7 to 3.1], respectively), but not population norms (OR [95% CI]: 0.6 [0.4 to 1.0]). The associations were stronger with more severe SGA and LGA (<5th and >95th percentile). Analyses adjusted for stillbirth risk factors, subset analyses excluding potential confounders, and analyses in preterm and term pregnancies showed similar patterns of association. In this study 70% of cases and 63% of controls agreed to participate. Analysis weights accounted for differences between consenting and non-consenting women. Some of the characteristics used for individualized fetal growth estimates were missing and were replaced with reference values. However, a sensitivity analysis using individualized norms based on the subset of stillbirths and live births with non-missing variables showed similar findings.
Stillbirth is associated with both growth restriction and excessive fetal growth. These findings suggest that, contrary to current practices and recommendations, stillbirth prevention strategies should focus on both severe SGA and severe LGA pregnancies.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Pregnancy is usually a happy time, when the parents-to-be anticipate the arrival of a new baby. But, sadly, about 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage—the early loss of a fetus (developing baby) that is unable to survive independently. Other pregnancies end in stillbirth—fetal death after 20 weeks of pregnancy (in the US; after 24 weeks in the UK). Stillbirths, like miscarriages, are common. In the US, for example, one in every 160 pregnancies ends in stillbirth. How women discover that their unborn baby has died varies. Some women simply know something is wrong and go to hospital to have their fears confirmed. Others find out when a routine check-up detects no fetal heartbeat. Most women give birth naturally after their baby has died, but if the mother's health is at risk, labor may be induced. Common causes of stillbirth include birth defects and infections. Risk factors for stillbirth include being overweight and smoking during pregnancy.
Why Was This Study Done?
Stillbirths are often associated with having a “small for gestational age” (SGA) fetus. Gestation is the period during which a baby develops in its mother's womb. Gestational age is estimated from the date of the woman's last menstrual period and/or from ultrasound scans. An SGA fetus is lighter than expected for its age based on observed distributions (norms) of fetal weights for gestational age. Although stillbirth is clearly associated with impaired fetal growth, the exact relationship between fetal growth and stillbirth remains unclear for two reasons. First, studies investigating this relationship have used gestational age at delivery rather than gestational age at death as an estimate of fetal age, which overestimates the gestational age of stillbirths and leads to errors in estimates of the proportions of SGA and “large for gestational age” (LGA) stillbirths. Second, many characteristics that affect normal fetal growth are also associated with the risk of stillbirth, and this has not been allowed for in previous studies. In this population-based case–control study, the researchers investigate the fetal growth abnormalities associated with stillbirth using a new approach to estimate gestational age and accounting for the effect of characteristics that affect both fetal growth and stillbirth. A population-based case–control study compares the characteristics of patients with a condition in a population with those of unaffected people in the same population.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers investigated all the stillbirths and a sample of live births that occurred over 2.5 years at 59 hospitals in five US regions. They used a formula developed by the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network to calculate the gestational age at death of the stillbirths. They categorized fetuses as SGA if they had a weight for gestational age within the bottom 10% (below the 10th percentile) of the population and as LGA if they had a weight for gestational age above the 90th percentile at death (stillbirth) or delivery (live birth) using population, ultrasound, and individualized norms of fetal weight for gestational age. Population norms incorporate weights for gestational age from normal pregnancies and from pregnancies complicated by growth abnormalities, whereas the other two norms include weights for gestational age from normal pregnancies only. Having an SGA fetus was associated with a 3- to 4-fold increased risk of stillbirth compared to having a fetus with “appropriate” weight for gestational age based on all three norms. LGA was associated with an increased risk of stillbirth based on the ultrasound and individualized norms but not the population norms. Being more severely SGA or LGA (below the 5th percentile or above the 95th percentile) was associated with an increased risk of stillbirth.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, when the time of death is accounted for and norms for weight for gestational age only from uncomplicated pregnancies are used, stillbirth is associated with both restricted and excessive fetal growth. Overall, abnormal fetal growth was identified in 25% of stillbirths using population norms and in about 50% of stillbirths using ultrasound or individualized norms. Although the accuracy of these findings is likely to be affected by aspects of the study design, these findings suggest that, contrary to current practices, strategies designed to prevent stillbirth should focus on identifying both severely SGA and severely LGA fetuses and should use norms for the calculation of weight for gestational age based on normal pregnancies only. Such an approach has the potential to identify almost half of the pregnancies likely to result in stillbirth.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, provides information on stillbirth
Tommy's, a UK nonprofit organization that funds research into stillbirth, premature birth, and miscarriage and provides information for parents-to-be, also provides information on stillbirth (including personal stories)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about stillbirth (including a video about dealing with grief after a stillbirth)
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about stillbirth (in English and Spanish)
Information about the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network is available
PMCID: PMC3995658  PMID: 24755550
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;177(8):755-767.
Stillbirths (fetal deaths occurring at ≥20 weeks' gestation) are approximately equal in number to infant deaths in the United States and are twice as likely among non-Hispanic black births as among non-Hispanic white births. The causes of racial disparity in stillbirth remain poorly understood. A population-based case-control study conducted by the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network in 5 US catchment areas from March 2006 to September 2008 identified characteristics associated with racial/ethnic disparity and interpersonal and environmental stressors, including a list of 13 significant life events (SLEs). The adjusted odds ratio for stillbirth among women reporting all 4 SLE factors (financial, emotional, traumatic, and partner-related) was 2.22 (95% confidence interval: 1.43, 3.46). This association was robust after additional control for the correlated variables of family income, marital status, and health insurance type. There was no interaction between race/ethnicity and other variables. Effective ameliorative interventions could have a substantial public health impact, since there is at least a 50% increased risk of stillbirth for the approximately 21% of all women and 32% of non-Hispanic black women who experience 3 or more SLE factors during the year prior to delivery.
PMCID: PMC3625065  PMID: 23531847
African Americans; case-control studies; continental population groups; life change events; psychosocial stress; socioeconomic factors; stillbirth; stress
Pediatrics  2011;127(5):817-826.
Guidelines for prevention of group B streptococcal (GBS) infection have successfully reduced early onset (EO) GBS disease. Study results suggest that Escherichia coli is an important EO pathogen.
To determine EO infection rates, pathogens, morbidity, and mortality in a national network of neonatal centers.
Infants with EO infection were identified by prospective surveillance at Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Network centers. Infection was defined by positive culture results for blood and cerebrospinal fluid obtained from infants aged ≤72 hours plus treatment with antibiotic therapy for ≥5 days. Mother and infant characteristics, treatments, and outcomes were studied. Numbers of cases and total live births (LBs) were used to calculate incidence.
Among 396 586 LBs (2006–2009), 389 infants developed EO infection (0.98 cases per 1000 LBs). Infection rates increased with decreasing birth weight. GBS (43%, 0.41 per 1000 LBs) and E coli (29%, 0.28 per 1000 LBs) were most frequently isolated. Most infants with GBS were term (73%); 81% with E coli were preterm. Mothers of 67% of infected term and 58% of infected preterm infants were screened for GBS, and results were positive for 25% of those mothers. Only 76% of mothers with GBS colonization received intrapartum chemoprophylaxis. Although 77% of infected infants required intensive care, 20% of term infants were treated in the normal newborn nursery. Sixteen percent of infected infants died, most commonly with E coli infection (33%).
In the era of intrapartum chemoprophylaxis to reduce GBS, rates of EO infection have declined but reflect a continued burden of disease. GBS remains the most frequent pathogen in term infants, and E coli the most significant pathogen in preterm infants. Missed opportunities for GBS prevention continue. Prevention of E coli sepsis, especially among preterm infants, remains a challenge.
PMCID: PMC3081183  PMID: 21518717
neonatal sepsis; group B streptococcal disease; Escherichia coli infection
Accurate assignment of gestational age at time of fetal death is important for research and clinical practice. An algorithm to estimate gestational age (GA) at fetal death was developed and evaluated.
The algorithm developed by the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network (SCRN) incorporated clinical and postmortem data. The SCRN conducted a population-based case-control study of women with stillbirths and live births from 2006 to 2008 in five geographic catchment areas. Rules were developed to estimate a due date, identify an interval during which death likely occurred, and estimate GA at the time of fetal death. Reliability of using fetal foot length to estimate GA at death was assessed.
The due date estimated for 620 singleton stillbirths studied was considered clinically reliable for 87%. Only 25.2% of stillbirths were documented alive within two days before diagnosis and 47.6% within one week of diagnosis. The algorithm-derived estimate of GA at time of fetal death was 1 or more weeks earlier than the GA at delivery for 43.5% of stillbirths. GA estimated from fetal foot length agreed with GA by algorithm within two weeks for 75% within a subset of well-dated stillbirths.
Precise assignment of GA at death, defined as reliable dating criteria and a short interval (≤1 week) during which fetal death was known to have occurred, was possible in 46.6% of cases. Fetal foot length is a relatively accurate measure of GA at death and should be collected in all stillbirth cases.
PMCID: PMC3564237  PMID: 23374059
Pediatric cardiology  2012;33(8):1415-1426.
Little is known about the outcomes of extremely low birth weight (ELBW) preterm infants with congenital heart defects (CHDs). The aim of this study was to assess the mortality, morbidity, and early childhood outcomes of ELBW infants with isolated CHD compared with infants with no congenital defects. Participants were 401–1,000 g infants cared for at National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network centers between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2005. Neonatal morbidities and 18–22 months’ corrected age outcomes were assessed. Neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) was defined as moderate to severe cerebral palsy, Bayley II mental or psychomotor developmental index < 70, bilateral blindness, or hearing impairment requiring aids. Poisson regression models were used to estimate relative risks for outcomes while adjusting for gestational age, small for gestational-age status, and other variables. Of 14,457 ELBW infants, 110 (0.8 %) had isolated CHD, and 13,887 (96 %) had no major birth defect. The most common CHD were septal defects, tetralogy of Fallot, pulmonary valve stenosis, and coarctation of the aorta. Infants with CHD experienced increased mortality (48 % compared with 35 % for infants with no birth defect) and poorer growth. Surprisingly, the adjusted risks of other short-term neonatal morbidities associated with prematurity were not significantly different. Fifty-seven (52 %) infants with CHD survived to 18–22 months’ corrected age, and 49 (86 %) infants completed follow-up. A higher proportion of surviving infants with CHD were impaired compared with those without birth defects (57 vs. 38 %, p = 0.004). Risk of death or NDI was greater for ELBW infants with CHD, although 20% of infants survived without NDI.
PMCID: PMC3687358  PMID: 22644414
heart defects; congenital; follow-up studies
Pediatrics  2010;126(3):443-456.
This report presents data from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network on care of and morbidity and mortality rates for very low birth weight infants, according to gestational age (GA).
Perinatal/neonatal data were collected for 9575 infants of extremely low GA (22–28 weeks) and very low birth weight (401–1500 g) who were born at network centers between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2007.
Rates of survival to discharge increased with increasing GA (6% at 22 weeks and 92% at 28 weeks); 1060 infants died at ≤ 12 hours, with most early deaths occurring at 22 and 23 weeks (85% and 43%, respectively). Rates of prenatal steroid use (13% and 53%, respectively), cesarean section (7% and 24%, respectively), and delivery room intubation (19% and 68%, respectively) increased markedly between 22 and 23 weeks. Infants at the lowest GAs were at greatest risk for morbidities. Overall, 93% had respiratory distress syndrome, 46% patent ductus arteriosus, 16% severe intraventricular hemorrhage, 11% necrotizing enterocolitis, and 36% late-onset sepsis. The new severity-based definition of bronchopulmonary dysplasia classified more infants as having bronchopulmonary dysplasia than did the traditional definition of supplemental oxygen use at 36 weeks (68%, compared with 42%). More than one-half of infants with extremely low GAs had undetermined retinopathy status at the time of discharge. Center differences in management and outcomes were identified.
Although the majority of infants with GAs of ≥24 weeks survive, high rates of morbidity among survivors continue to be observed.
PMCID: PMC2982806  PMID: 20732945
extremely low gestation; very low birth weight; morbidity; death

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