Am J Perinatol 2021; 38(08): 773-778
DOI: 10.1055/s-0039-3401850
Original Article

When is My Baby Going Home? Moderate to Late Preterm Infants are Discharged at 36 Weeks Based on Admission Data

Alanna Higgins Joyce
1   Department of Pediatrics, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
Arnab Sengupta
2   Department of Pediatrics, Mercy Hospital, Springfield, Miami
Craig F. Garfield
1   Department of Pediatrics, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
Patrick Myers
1   Department of Pediatrics, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
› Author Affiliations
Funding None.


Objective This study evaluates the effect of admission characteristics of uncomplicated moderate to late preterm infants on timing of discharge. One of the first questions that families of infants admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) ask is, “When is my baby going home?” Moderate to late preterm infants are the largest cohort of NICU patients but little data exist about their length of stay (LOS).

Study Design A retrospective electronic chart review was completed on 12,498 infants admitted to our NICU between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2015. All inborn infants with a gestational age between 320/7 and 366/7 weeks were studied.

Results A total of 3,240 infants met our inclusion criteria. The mean postmenstrual age at discharge was 363/7 weeks. Infants who were small for gestational age were significantly more likely to have an increased LOS. Infants born between 34 and 366/7 weeks had a significantly increased LOS if they had respiratory distress syndrome. Admission diagnoses of neonatal abstinence syndrome, meconium aspiration syndrome, hydrops, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, biliary emesis, ABO incompatibly, and a genetic diagnosis all had increased LOS for all late preterm infants.

Conclusion For uncomplicated moderate to late preterm infants, clinicians can counsel families that their infants will likely be discharged at 36 weeks of postmenstrual age. Small for gestational age infants and those with specific diagnoses may stay longer.

Publication History

Received: 15 April 2019

Accepted: 11 November 2019

Article published online:
30 December 2019

© 2019. Thieme. All rights reserved.

Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.
333 Seventh Avenue, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10001, USA

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