Background: The effect of birth location on hypothermia-related outcomes has not been rigorously examined in the literature. In this study, we determined whether birth location had an impact on the benefits of whole-body cooling to 33.5 °C for 72 h in term infants (n = 208) with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) who participated in the Neonatal Research Network (NRN) randomized controlled trial.
Methods: Heterogeneity by birth location was examined with respect to cooling treatment for the 18-mo primary outcomes (death, moderate disability, severe disability) and secondary outcomes (death, components of disability), and in-hospital organ dysfunction. Logistic regression models were used to generate adjusted odds ratios.
Results: Infants born at a location other than an NRN center (outborn) (n = 93) experienced significant delays in initiation of therapy (mean (SD): 5.5 (1.1) vs. 4.4 (1.2) h), lower baseline temperatures (36.6 (1.2) vs. 37.1 (0.9) °C), and more severe HIE (43 vs. 29%) than infants born in an NRN center (inborn) (n = 115). Maternal education <12 y (50 vs. 14%) and African-American ethnicity (43 vs. 25%) were more common in the inborn group. When adjusted for NRN center and HIE severity, there were no significant differences in 18-mo outcomes or in-hospital organ dysfunction between inborn and outborn infants.
Conclusion: Although limited by sample size and some differences in baseline characteristics, the study showed that birth location does not appear to modify the treatment effect of hypothermia after HIE.