The low birthweight, term infant and the need for admission to special care nurseries


  • Michael Parry,

    1. Department of Paediatrics, St Vincent's Hospital, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
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  • Mark W Davies

    Corresponding author
    1. Grantley Stable Neonatal Unit, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
    2. Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
    • Correspondence: Dr Mark Davies, Department of Neonatology, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Herston, Qld 4029, Australia. Fax: +61 7 3646 5259; email:

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  • Conflict of interest: None declared.



We aimed to determine, in full-term newborns born between 2000 and 2499 g, what proportion develop problems or the need for interventions that would likely require admission to a special care nursery (SCN) (i.e. needed an intravenous line (IV) or a nasogastric tube (NGT).


A multicentre, retrospective audit of all babies born from 1 January to 30 June 2011 was used. Eligible babies were term, inborn at one of four centres in south-east Queensland, with a birthweight between 2000 and 2499 g.


The cohort of 98 babies had a mean (SD) birthweight of 2340 (122.3) g and a mean (SD) gestational age of 38.3 (1.0) weeks. Forty-three had at least one low temperature, 55 had at least one low blood glucose, 35 had an NGT, 22 had an IV cannula. In the entire cohort, 48 babies (49%) required either an IV cannula or an NGT. Fifteen per cent had a second problem (either low blood glucose or low temperature) at a median (interquartile range) age of 11 (5.5–25.5) h: none required a second NGT or IV. The proportion of babies that required either an NGT or an IV was larger in the 2000–2199 g group (P = 0.026).


About half of the babies born with a birthweight of 2000–2499 g will require some intervention that will require them to be admitted to a SCN. However, about half would be able to avoid an SCN admission if they are well and admitted to the post-natal ward.