Racial differences in newborn intensive care morbidity in Alaska

Alaska Med. Apr-Jun 2001;43(2):32-7.

Abstract

Birthweight-specific neonatal mortality for Alaska Natives is higher than for non-natives for the years 1987-1996. We investigated the reasons for this based on Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit information available from 1991-1996. We also investigated whether differences in mortality extended to measures of morbidity. There were less Native patients born at the tertiary care center for babies with birthweight < 1500 grams and 1500-2499 grams (64% for Natives and 87% for non-natives, p = .000). Differences in antenatal referral were only apparent for the population residing within the Anchorage/Mat-Su area. There were also less cesarean deliveries for Native infants that were born outside of the tertiary care center for both birthweight categories (25% for Native vs. 53% for non-native infants < 1500 grams, p = .01; 27% for Native vs. 48% for non-native infants 1500-2499 grams, p = .01). For Alaska Native babies < 1500 grams there was more necrotizing enterocolitis (13% in Native vs. 4.9% in non-native, p = .01), more severe retinopathy of prematurity (12% in Native vs. 4.6% in non-native, p = .01), and more bronchopulmonary dysplasia (49% in Native vs. 34% in non-native, p = .04). For Alaska Native babies 1500-2499 grams that needed ventilatory assistance there was more intraventricular hemorrhage (19% in Native vs. 7.4% in non-native, p = .003), more severe (grade 3-4) intraventricular hemorrhage (9.5% in Native vs. 0.9% in nonnative, p = .001), and more acquired sepsis (7.1% in Native vs. 1.7% in non-native, p = .02). Differences in access to Level III perinatal care and intrapartum care (cesarean delivery rates) are likely factors that contribute to the worse outcomes in the Alaska Native population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Alaska / epidemiology
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Hospital Mortality*
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / ethnology
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Inuits / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy