Weekend birth and higher neonatal mortality: a problem of patient acuity or quality of care?

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2003 Nov-Dec;32(6):724-33. doi: 10.1177/0884217503258306.


Objective: To address the differences in neonatal mortality among births to teenage mothers on weekdays and weekends.

Design: A retrospective descriptive design. Rates of neonatal mortality linked to maternal risk factors, low birth weight, gestational age, day of the week of the birth, and ethnicity/race were examined.

Patients/participants: The population consisted of all recorded births to teenage mothers (< 20 years of age) in Texas in 1999 and 2000 (N = 111,749). These births were linked to death certificates for a subset of neonatal deaths within the same time period (n = 397).

Main outcome measures: The outcome of interest was any death attributed to conditions originating in the perinatal period and recorded as such on the infant death certificate.

Results: Neonatal mortality was higher among the births on weekends than those during the week. Maternal risks and patient acuity levels of mothers and babies were not consistently higher on weekends. However, when risk factors were present, weekend births were more dangerous for Hispanics than for other ethnic or racial groups.

Conclusions: Differences in patient acuity did not satisfactorily explain higher neonatal mortality rates on weekends. Thus, quality of care indicators such as lower hospital staffing and reduced availability of services on weekends may be critical sources of unnecessary neonatal deaths.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Delivery, Obstetric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, Hospital / standards*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • Time Factors