Cost of care and social consequences of very low birth weight infants without premature- related morbidities in Italy

Ital J Pediatr. 2015 Aug 19;41:59. doi: 10.1186/s13052-015-0165-z.


Aim of this study was to estimate the cost that is borne by the Italian National Health Service, families, and social security due to very low birth weight infants (VLBWIs) without prematurity-related morbidities up to the age of 18 months. We followed up on 150 VLBWIs and 145 comparable full-term infants (FTIs) who were born in one of 25 different neonatal intensive care units upon discharge from the hospital and at six and 18 months of age. The average length of the primary hospitalisation of the VLBWIs was 59.7 days (SD 21.6 days), with a total cost of €20,502 (SD €8409), compared with three days (SD 0.4 days) with a total cost of €907 (SD €304) for the FTIs. The total societal cost of the VLBWIs for the first 18 months of life was €58,098 (SD €21,625), while the corresponding figure for FTIs was €24,209 (SD €15,557). Among VLBWIs, both low birth weight and gestational age were correlated with the length of hospitalisation after birth (r(2) = 0.61 and r(2) = 0.57, respectively; p values < 0.0005). Our findings highlight that the existing DRGs and tariffs inadequately reflect the actual costs for Italian National Health Service.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis-Related Groups / economics
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Hospitalization / economics*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight*
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Quality of Life