Perinatal health services organization for preterm births: a multinational comparison

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To explore population characteristics, organization of health services and comparability of available information for very low birth weight or very preterm neonates born before 32 weeks' gestation in 11 high-income countries contributing data to the International Network for Evaluating Outcomes of Neonates (iNeo).

STUDY DESIGN:

We obtained population characteristics from public domain sources, conducted a survey of organization of maternal and neonatal health services and evaluated the comparability of data contributed to the iNeo collaboration from Australia, Canada, Finland, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and UK.

RESULTS:

All countries have nationally funded maternal/neonatal health care with > 90% of women receiving prenatal care. Preterm birth rate, maternal age, and neonatal and infant mortality rates were relatively similar across countries. Most (50 to > 95%) between-hospital transports of neonates born at non-tertiary units were conducted by designated transport teams; 72% (8/11 countries) had designated transfer and 63% (7/11 countries) mandate the presence of a physician. The capacity of ‘step-down' units varied between countries, with capacity for respiratory care available in < 10% to > 75% of units. Heterogeneity in data collection processes for benchmarking and quality improvement activities were identified.

CONCLUSIONS:

Comparability of healthcare outcomes for very preterm low birth weight neonates between countries requires an evaluation of differences in population coverage, healthcare services and meta-data.

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