Survival of extremely low-birth-weight infants

  • EM Kalimba
  • DE Ballot


Objectives. Survival of extremely low-birth-weight (ELBW) infants in a resource-limited public hospital setting is still low in South Africa. is study aimed to establish the determinants of survival in this weight category of neonates, who, owing to limited intensive care facilities, were not mechanically ventilated.
Design. A retrospective study in which patient data were retrieved from the departmental computer database.
Setting. The neonatal unit at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Subjects. Neonates admitted at birth between January 2006 and December 2010 with birth weights of .900 g.
Outcome measures. Survival at discharge was the major outcome. Maternal variables were age, parity, gravidity, antenatal care, antenatal
steroids, place and mode of delivery and HIV status. Neonatal variables were gestational age (GA), birth weight (BW), gender, place of birth,
hypothermia, resuscitation at birth, sepsis, necrotising enterocolitis, intraventricular haemorrhage, jaundice, nasal continuous positive airway
pressure (NCPAP) with or without surfactant, and Apgar scores.
Results. A total of 382 neonates were included in the study. Overall survival was 26.5%. e main causes of death, as per the Perinatal
Problem Identi.cation Programme (PPIP) classi.cation, were extreme multi-organ immaturity and respiratory distress syndrome. e main
determinants of survival were BW (odds ratio (OR) 0.994; 95% con.dence interval (CI) 0.991 - 0.997) and GA (OR 0.827; 95% CI 0.743
- 0.919). Overall the rate of NCPAP use was 15.5%, and NCPAP was not associated with improved survival.
Conclusion. Survival of ELBW infants is low. BW and GA were the strongest predictors of survival. E.ective steps are required to avoid extreme prematurity, encourage antenatal care, and provide antenatal steroids when preterm birth is anticipated.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1999-7671
print ISSN: 1994-3032