Family Rooms in Neonatal Intensive Care Units and Neonatal Outcomes: An International Survey and Linked Cohort Study

J Pediatr. 2020 Nov:226:112-117.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2020.06.009. Epub 2020 Jun 7.


Objectives: To evaluate the proportion of neonatal intensive care units with facilities supporting parental presence in their infants' rooms throughout the 24-hour day (ie, infant-parent rooms) in high-income countries and to analyze the association of this with outcomes of extremely preterm infants.

Study design: In this survey and linked cohort study, we analyzed unit design and facilities for parents in 10 neonatal networks of 11 countries. We compared the composite outcome of mortality or major morbidity, length of stay, and individual morbidities between neonates admitted to units with and without infant-parent rooms by linking survey responses to patient data from 2015 for neonates of less than 29 weeks of gestation.

Results: Of 331 units, 13.3% (44/331) provided infant-parent rooms. Patient-level data were available for 4662 infants admitted to 159 units in 7 networks; 28% of the infants were cared for in units with infant-parent rooms. Neonates from units with infant-parent rooms had lower odds of mortality or major morbidity (aOR, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.64-0.89), including lower odds of sepsis and bronchopulmonary dysplasia, than those from units without infant-parent rooms. The adjusted mean length of stay was 3.4 days shorter (95%, CI -4.7 to -3.1) in the units with infant-parent rooms.

Conclusions: The majority of units in high-income countries lack facilities to support parents' presence in their infants' rooms 24 hours per day. The availability vs absence of infant-parent rooms was associated with lower odds of composite outcome of mortality or major morbidity and a shorter length of stay.

Keywords: NICU architecture; NICU design; family-centered care; preterm infant; single-family room; skin-to-skin contact.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant, Extremely Premature
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / mortality*
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / therapy*
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal / organization & administration*
  • Male
  • Patients' Rooms / organization & administration*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Grants and funding