Health protocols need to be guided by current data on survival and benefits of interventions within the local context. Periodic clinical audits are required to inform and update health care protocols. This study aimed to review morbidity and mortality in very low birth weight (VLBW) infants in 2013 compared with similar data from 2006/2007.
We performed a retrospective review of patients’ records from a neonatal computer database for 562 VLBW infants. These neonates weighed between 500 and 1500 g at birth, and were admitted within 48 hours after birth between 01 January 2013 and 31 December 2013. Patients’ characteristics, complications of prematurity, and therapeutic interventions were compared with 2006/2007 data. Univariate analysis and multiple logistic regression were performed to establish significant associations of various factors with survival to discharge for 2013.
Survival in 2013 was similar to that in 2006/2007 (73.4% vs 70.2%, p = 0.27). However, survival in neonates who weighed 750–900 g significantly improved from 20.4% in 2006/2007 to 52.4% in 2013 (p = 0.001). The use of nasal continuous positive airway pressure (NCPAP) increased from 20.3% to 62.9% and surfactant use increased from 19.2% to 65.5% between the two time periods (both p < 0.001). Antenatal care attendance improved from 54.4% to 70.6% (p = 0.001) and late onset sepsis (>72 hours after birth) increased from 12.5% to 19% (p = 0.006) between the two time periods. Other variables remained unchanged between 2006/2007 and 2013. The main determinants of survival to discharge in 2013 were birth weight (odds ratio 1.005, 95% confidence interval 1.003–1.0007, resuscitation at birth (2.673, 1.375–5.197), NCPAP (0.247, 0.109–0.560), necrotising enterocolitis (4.555, 1.659–12.51), and mode of delivery, including normal vaginal delivery (0.456, 0.231–0.903) and vaginal breech (0.069, 0.013–0.364).
There was a marked improvement in the survival of neonates weighing between 750 and 900 g at birth, most likely due to provision of surfactant and NCPAP. Provision of NCPAP, prevention of necrotising enterocolitis, and control of infection need to be prioritised in VLBW infants to improve their outcome.