The effect of birth location on hypothermia-related outcomes has not been rigorously examined in the literature. In this study, we determined whether birth location had an impact on the benefits of whole-body cooling to 33.5 °C for 72 h in term infants (n = 208) with hypoxic–ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) who participated in the Neonatal Research Network (NRN) randomized controlled trial.
Heterogeneity by birth location was examined with respect to cooling treatment for the 18-mo primary outcomes (death, moderate disability, severe disability) and secondary outcomes (death, components of disability), and in-hospital organ dysfunction. Logistic regression models were used to generate adjusted odds ratios.
Infants bom at a location other than an NRN center (outborn) (n = 93) experienced significant delays in initiation of therapy (mean (SD): 5.5 (1.1) vs. 4.4 (1.2) h), lower baseline temperatures (36.6 (1.2) vs. 37.1 (0.9) °C), and more severe HIE (43 vs. 29%) than infants born in an NRN center (inborn) (n = 115). Maternal education <12 y (50 vs. 14%) and African-American ethnicity (43 vs. 25%) were more common in the inborn group. When adjusted for NRN center and HIE severity, there were no significant differences in 18-mo outcomes or in-hospital organ dysfunction between inborn and outborn infants.
Although limited by sample size and some differences in baseline characteristics, the study showed that birth location does not appear to modify the treatment effect of hypothermia after HIE.