Neonatal mortality in normal birth weight babies: does the level of hospital care make a difference?

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1989 Jul;161(1):86-91. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(89)90239-1.


Although neonatal intensive care for low birth weight infants has been extensively studied, few researchers have looked at the impact of the level of care at the delivery hospital for infants weighing greater than 2500 gm. Using linked birth-death records from Georgia for 1979 to 1982, we examined the effect that the level of care available at the hospital of delivery had on neonatal mortality in infants weighing 2500 gm and above. We used a risk scoring system designed for use with vital records to determine prepartum risk and the presence or absence of a complication of labor as indicated on the birth certificate to determine intrapartum risk. We found that women with a high prepartum risk score had increased neonatal mortality at level 1 hospitals. Women who developed a complication of labor, regardless of their prepartum risk status, had the highest neonatal mortality rates when they delivered at level 1 hospitals. We suggest prenatal risk assessment for all women and referral of high risk women to level 2 or 3 hospitals for delivery even at term.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight*
  • Female
  • Hospitals*
  • Humans
  • Infant Care*
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Obstetric Labor Complications
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors