Racial and Ethnic Differences Over Time in Outcomes of Infants Born Less Than 30 Weeks' Gestation

Pediatrics. 2019 Sep;144(3):e20191106. doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-1106. Epub 2019 Aug 12.


Objectives: To examine changes in care practices over time by race and ethnicity and whether the decrease in hospital mortality and severe morbidities has benefited infants of minority over infants of white mothers.

Methods: Infants 22 to 29 weeks' gestation born between January 2006 and December 2017 at a Vermont Oxford Network center in the United States were studied. We examined mortality and morbidity rate differences and 95% confidence intervals for African American and Hispanic versus white infants by birth year. We tested temporal differences in mortality and morbidity rates between white and African American or Hispanic infants using a likelihood ratio test on nested binomial regression models.

Results: Disparities for certain care practices such as antenatal corticosteroids and for some in-hospital outcomes have narrowed over time for minority infants. Compared with white infants, African American infants had a faster decline for mortality, hypothermia, necrotizing enterocolitis, and late-onset sepsis, whereas Hispanic infants had a faster decline for mortality, respiratory distress syndrome, and pneumothorax. Other morbidities showed a constant rate difference between African American and Hispanic versus white infants over time. Despite the improvements, outcomes including hypothermia, mortality, necrotizing enterocolitis, late-onset sepsis, and severe intraventricular hemorrhage remained elevated by the end of the study period, especially among African American infants.

Conclusions: Racial and ethnic disparities in vital care practices and certain outcomes have decreased. That the quality deficit among minority infants occurred for several care practice measures and potentially modifiable outcomes suggests a critical role for quality improvement initiatives tailored for minority-serving hospitals.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ethnic Groups
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / ethnology
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology*
  • Healthcare Disparities / trends
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality / ethnology*
  • Infant Mortality / trends
  • Infant, Extremely Premature*
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / trends
  • Morbidity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Puerto Rico / epidemiology
  • Race Factors
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology