Outcomes of babies born before arrival at a tertiary hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa

  • MK Bassingthwaighte
  • DE Ballot


Background. Babies born before arrival (BBBAs) to hospital constitute a high-risk newborn population. The literature demonstrates that BBBAs have increased perinatal mortality and morbidity.
Objectives. To describe the maternal and neonatal characteristics of BBBAs presenting to Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMJAH), South Africa, and assess whether they have increased morbidity and mortality compared with inborn babies.
Methods. This was a matched case-controlled retrospective record review of newborns presenting to the neonatal unit at CMJAH between 1 January 2011 and 31 January 2013. BBBAs were matched 1:1 with the next consecutive inborn on birthweight category and gender.
Results. A total of 356 neonates were analysed. BBBAs had higher mortality than inborn controls within the first 24 hours of hospital presentation (7.9% v. 3.9%; p=0.05). Mothers of BBBAs were more likely to be unbooked (58.4% v. 10.7%; p<0.001). Cases had a higher prevalence of early sepsis (22.9% v. 3.6%; p=0.03) and birth asphyxia (14.5% v. 0.8%; p<0.001) than controls. Overall, more deaths occurred in the very-low-birthweight (VLBW) (24% v. 10%; p=0.06) and low-birthweight (LBW) (7.46% v. 0%; p=0.02) BBBAs compared with controls.
Conclusion. We demonstrated higher mortality in the immediate postnatal period and in the VLBW and LBW categories compared with hospital-delivered neonates. Mothers who delivered out of hospital were more likely to be multiparous and unbooked and to have unknown HIV, syphilis and rhesus results. Neonatal resuscitation, transport and immediate care on arrival at the hospital should be prioritised in the management of BBBAs.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1999-7671
print ISSN: 1994-3032