Objective: Although our knowledge about how to care for high-risk neonates who require intensive care is continually improving, disparities in health outcomes among various ethnic groups living in developed countries are becoming more evident. The purpose of this study was to identify the risk factors for neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) mortality among Canadian-born minority infants and, furthermore, to determine whether ethnicity was in itself an independent predictor of mortality or major morbidity in the NICU.
Study design: Data were prospectively gathered on 6528 infants admitted to nine regionally located NICUs across Canada. Multiple logistic regressions were used to develop risk-adjusted models for NICU mortality and major morbidity.
Result: Despite adjusting for differences in small for gestational age (SGA), outborn status and gestational age less than or equal to 28 weeks, South Asian infants still had significantly greater odds of mortality in the NICU. Neonatal sepsis was the strongest predictor of mortality among African infants, even greater than birth at 28 weeks or less. At significantly greater odds of survival with major morbidity were Aboriginal males and East Asian females.
Conclusion: There are ethnic disparities in the risks of neonatal mortality and morbidity in the NICU. Understanding these differences is important to be able to determine specific areas to target in improving healthcare delivery and reducing disparities in health outcomes among Canada's diverse population.