Costs of neonatal care for low-birthweight babies in English hospitals

Acta Paediatr. 2009 Jul;98(7):1123-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2009.01316.x. Epub 2009 Apr 30.


Aim: To estimate mean costs of neonatal care for babies with birthweights <or=1800 g in a regional Level 3 unit and three Level 2 units providing short-term intensive care.

Method: Babies <or=1800 g admitted to units in four hospitals in England over 15 months in 2001-2002 were audited until discharge. Unit costs (2005-2006 prices) were attributed to their resource items, including neonatal cot occupancy, pharmaceuticals, blood products and ambulance transfers. Bootstrapped mean costs were derived for the Level 3 unit and the Level 2 units combined.

Results: The mean gestation period for 199 Level 3 babies was 29.5 weeks compared with 30.4 weeks for 192 Level 2 babies (p = 0.003). Mean costs excluding ambulance journeys were pound17,861 per Level 3 baby and pound12,344 per Level 2 baby. Level 3 babies <1000 g averaged pound26,815, whereas Level 2 babies <1000 g were generally less costly than babies 1000-1499 g. Ambulances transported 76 Level 3 babies and 62 Level 2 babies; their adjusted mean costs were pound18,495 and pound12,881, respectively.

Conclusion: By comprehensively costing resource components, the magnitude of total costs for low-birthweight babies has been revealed, thus demonstrating the importance of budgets for neonatal units being realistically determined by commissioners of neonatal services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ambulances / economics
  • Bed Occupancy
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Economics, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • England
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / economics*
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / statistics & numerical data
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / economics*
  • Length of Stay / economics
  • Male
  • Patient Admission
  • Patient Transfer / economics
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regional Medical Programs / economics*