• Adverse perinatal outcome;
  • early neonatal mortality;
  • intrapartum mortality;
  • organisation of maternity units;
  • seniority of staff;
  • timing of hospital delivery;
  • volume of deliveries

Please cite this paper as: de Graaf J, Ravelli A, Visser G, Hukkelhoven C, Tong W, Bonsel G, Steegers E. Increased adverse perinatal outcome of hospital delivery at night. BJOG 2010;117:1098–1107.

Objective  To determine whether delivery in the evening or at night and some organisational features of maternity units are related to perinatal adverse outcome.

Design  A 7-year national registry-based cohort study.

Setting  All 99 Dutch hospitals.

Population  From nontertiary hospitals (n = 88), 655 961 singleton deliveries from 32 gestational weeks onwards, and, from tertiary centres (n = 10), 108 445 singleton deliveries from 22 gestational weeks onwards.

Methods  Multiple logistic regression analysis of national perinatal registration data over the period 2000–2006. In addition, multilevel analysis was applied to investigate whether the effects of time of delivery and other variables systematically vary across different hospitals.

Main outcome measures  Delivery-related perinatal mortality (intrapartum or early neonatal mortality) and combined delivery-related perinatal adverse outcome (any of the following: intrapartum or early neonatal mortality, 5-minute Apgar score below 7, or admission to neonatal intensive care).

Results  After case mix adjustment, relative to daytime, increased perinatal mortality was found in nontertiary hospitals during the evening (OR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.15–1.52) and at night (OR, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.28–1.69) and, in tertiary centres, at night only (OR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.06–1.37). Similar significant effects were observed using the combined perinatal adverse outcome measure. Multilevel analysis was unsuccessful; extending the initial analysis with nominal hospital effects and hospital–delivery time interaction effects confirmed the significant effect of night in nontertiary hospitals, whereas other organisational effects (nontertiary, tertiary) were taken up by the hospital terms.

Conclusion  Hospital deliveries at night are associated with increased perinatal mortality and adverse perinatal outcome. The time of delivery and other organisational features representing experience (seniority of staff, volume) explain hospital-to-hospital variation.