Surfactant use for premature infants with respiratory distress syndrome in three New York city hospitals: discordance of practice from a community clinician consensus standard

J Perinatol. 2010 Sep;30(9):590-5. doi: 10.1038/jp.2010.6. Epub 2010 Feb 25.


Objective: To assess concordance with a locally developed standard of care for premature infants with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) for whom the standard recommends surfactant treatment within 2 h of birth, and to examine the association between clinical, demographic, and hospital characteristics with discordance from the standard.

Study design: Retrospective cohort study of 773 infants weighing < or =1750 g born in any of the three New York City hospitals between 1999 and 2002.

Result: 227 of the 773 infants (29%) met criteria for treatment according to the standard. Of these, 37% received surfactant by 2 h. By 4 h, 70% of infants who met the standard received surfactant. White infants were more likely to receive surfactant by 4 h (85%) than African American (61%) or Latino infants (67%). Multivariable logistic regression revealed significant odds ratios predicting discordance from the relaxed criteria (4 h) for African American race (4.10, 95% confidence interval: 1.30 to 13.00), 100 g of birth weight (odds ratio: 1.22, 95% confidence interval: 1.10 to 1.34), and hospital of birth.

Conclusion: Many infants with RDS failed to receive surfactant replacement therapy at 2 and 4 h after birth. African Americans and those born larger were less likely to receive surfactant. If these data can be generalized, there is a large opportunity to reduce infant morbidity from RDS and to reduce racial/ethnic disparities in birth outcomes by increasing the rate and speed with which surfactant is delivered to these infants.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Male
  • Medical Audit
  • New York City
  • Pulmonary Surfactants / therapeutic use*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / ethnology*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Pulmonary Surfactants