Objective: To determine the rate and severity of short- and long-term morbidity in very low birth weight infants treated before and after the implementation of a change in clinical practice designed to avoid hyperoxia.
Methods: Analysis of a prospectively collected database of all infants < or = 1250 g admitted to two Emory University NICU's from January 2000 to December 2004. A change in practice was instituted in January 2003 with the objective of avoiding hyperoxia in preterm infants with target O2 saturation (SpO2) at 93 to 85% (Period II). Before the change in practice, SpO2 high alarms were set at 100% and low alarms at 92% (Period I). Statistical analysis included bivariate analyses and multivariate logistic regression comparing outcomes between the two periods.
Results: From January 2000 to December 2004, 502 infants met enrollment criteria and 202 (40%) were born in period II, after change in SpO2 targets. Birth weight, gestational age and survival were similar between both periods. The rates for any retinopathy of prematurity, supplemental oxygen at 36 weeks post-conceptional age and the use of steroids for chronic lung disease were significantly lower in the infants born in Period II. There was no difference in the rates of necrotizing enterocolitis, intraventricular hemorrhage and periventricular leukomalacia. At 18 months corrected age (CA), the infants treated during Period II had a higher Mental Developmental Index (MDI) scores (80.2 +/- 18.3 vs 89.2 +/- 18.5; P 0.02) and similar Psychomotor Developmental Index (PDI) scores (83.9 +/- 18.6 vs 89.4 +/- 17.2; P 0.08) than those treated during Period I. The proportion of infants with an MDI or a PDI less than 70 was similar between the periods.
Conclusions: The change in practice to avoid hyperoxia is associated with a significant decrease in neonatal morbidity and does not have a detrimental effect on developmental outcomes at 18 months CA.