Objective: To describe the course and management of infants with neonatal chronic lung disease who were discharged home on low-flow supplemental oxygen.
Methodology: Retrospective case series in Western Australia.
Results: Fifty-six neonates born in the 6 year period 1987-92 inclusive were discharged home on supplemental oxygen. The median gestational age was 27 weeks (range 22-40), median birthweight 865 g (range 450-3350), median oxygen flow rates 125 mL/min (range 30-850). The median corrected age at discharge was 1 month (range term-9.5) and this had decreased throughout the study period. Acute hospital readmissions were common (36 of 56, 64%). The majority of these admissions were for wheezing illnesses. Three infants died. The median corrected age at weaning from day oxygen was 4 months (range term-33) and from night oxygen was 6 months (range 2-38). Monitoring of oxygen saturation in air, in low-flow oxygen and in the overnight sleep study were important non-invasive guides in deciding when patients were ready for discharge, reducing the oxygen flow rate and when oxygen could be ceased, respectively.
Conclusions: The home oxygen programme enables infants with neonatal chronic lung disease to be discharged home earlier, is safe, and well accepted by parents and community health care workers.