Introduction: Recent attention has been focussed on pregnancy outcomes in developing countries, with the publication of the World Health Organization Report 2005, Make Every Mother and Child Count and the Neonatal Survival Series from the Lancet in 2005. Scant outcome data from the smaller islands of the Caribbean exist for very low birthweight (VLBW) babies (birthweight < 1500 g).
Patients and methods: A retrospective review of mortality data on VLBW babies in Antigua and Barbuda was performed. Antigua and Barbuda had a population of 71 500 with per capita income of (US) $6054 dollars in 1998. In November 1985, a neonatal Special Care Nursery (SCN) was established. The survival to discharge from SCN for VLBW babies was reviewed from January 1986 to December 2006.
Results: There were 26 455 babies born from 1986 to 2006; 344 (1.3%) were VLBW babies. Survival to SCN discharge was 45% from 1986 to 1992, 46% from 1993 to 1999, and increased to 60% from 2000 to 2006 (p < 0.05 compared with the first two time-periods). Babies from 1000 to 1499 g accounted for 64% of VLBW babies and survival to SCN discharge was 60% from 1986 to 1992, 58% from 1993 to 1999, and increased to 83% from 2000 to 2006 (p < 0.01 compared with the first time period; p < 0.001 compared with the second). Babies < 1000g accounted for 36% of VLBW babies and survival to SCN discharge was 10% from 1986 to 1992, increased to 25% from 1993 to 1999 and to 28% from 2000 to 2006 (trend of p < 0.10 compared with first time period). Conservative newborn care only was available. Antenatal steroids were given from 2000 to 2006.
Conclusion: The outlook for VLBW babies using conservative newborn care techniques has significantly improved over 21-years in Antigua and Barbuda.