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Causes of death in infants admitted to Australian neonatal intensive care units between 1995 and 2006

Authors

  • Yvonne Feng,

    1. School of Women's and Children's Heath, University of New South Wales, Kensington, NSW, Australia
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  • Mohamed E Abdel-Latif,

    1. Department of Neonatology, Canberra Hospital, Garran, ACT, Australia
    2. Division of Women and Child Health, Clinical School, Australian National University, Woden, ACT, Australia
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  • Barbara Bajuk,

    1. Pregnancy and Newborn Services Network, Westmead, NSW, Australia
    2. School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
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  • Kei Lui,

    1. School of Women's and Children's Heath, University of New South Wales, Kensington, NSW, Australia
    2. Department of Newborn Care, Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick, NSW, Australia
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  • Ju Lee Oei,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Newborn Care, Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick, NSW, Australia
    • School of Women's and Children's Heath, University of New South Wales, Kensington, NSW, Australia
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  • the Neonatal Intensive Care Units'(NICUS) Group of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, Australia


Correspondence

Ju Lee Oei, Department of Newborn Care, Royal Hospital for Women, Barker street, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia.

Tel: 61 2 9382 6111 |

Fax: 61 2 9382 6191 |

Email: j.oei@unsw.edu.au

Abstract

Aim

To compare causes and rates of mortality among infants admitted to 10 Australian neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) between 1995 and 2006.

Methods

De-identified perinatal data from the Neonatal Intensive Care Units' (NICUS) Data Collection for 24 131 infants were examined for causes and rates of death. The study period was divided into two epochs: I (1995–2000, n = 11 185 infants) and II (2001–2006, n = 12 946 infants).

Results

A total of 2224 (9.2%) infants died in hospital. Mortality decreased from 10.3% (1152/11 185) in epoch I to 8.3% (1072/12 946) in epoch II (p < 0.001) due to improved survival in term infants. Extreme prematurity also decreased as a primary cause of death (118 (10.2%) vs 76 (7.1%), p = 0.008). No infant >42-week gestation was admitted in epoch II. Congenital abnormalities were the most common cause of death (>20%) in both epochs, mostly in term rather than preterm infants (40.7% vs 13.9%, p < 0.001). Age of death was unchanged between the two epochs (median 4, 1st, 3rd quartiles: 1,16 days).

Conclusion

Mortality rates have continued to decrease but improvement is predominantly due to improved survival of term infants and prevention of postdate deliveries. Congenital abnormalities continue to be the most common cause of death.

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