Survival and causes of death in extremely preterm infants in the Netherlands

Pauline Van Beek*, Floris Groenendaal, Lisa Broeders, Peter H. Dijk, Koen P. Dijkman, Frank A. M. van den Dungen, Arno F. J. van Heijst, Jacqueline L. van Hillegersberg, René F. Kornelisse, Wes Onland, Frank A. B. A. Schuerman, Elke van Westering-Kroon, Ruben S. G. M. Witlox, Peter Andriessen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: In the Netherlands, the threshold for offering active treatment for spontaneous birth was lowered from 25+0 to 24+0 weeks' gestation in 2010. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of guideline implementation on survival and causes and timing of death in the years following implementation. Design: National cohort study, using data from the Netherlands Perinatal Registry. Patients: The study population included all 3312 stillborn and live born infants with a gestational age (GA) between 240/7 and 266/7 weeks born between January 2011 and December 2017. Infants with the same GA born between January 2007 and December 2009 (N=1400) were used as the reference group. Main outcome measures: Survival to discharge, as well as cause and timing of death. Results: After guideline implementation, there was a significant increase in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission rate for live born infants born at 24 weeks' GA (27%-69%, p<0.001), resulting in increased survival to discharge in 24-week live born infants (13%-34%, p<0.001). Top three causes of in-hospital mortality were necrotising enterocolitis (28%), respiratory distress syndrome (19%) and intraventricular haemorrhage (17%). A significant decrease in cause of death either complicated or caused by respiratory insufficiency was seen over time (34% in 2011-2014 to 23% in 2015-2017, p=0.006). Conclusions: Implementation of the 2010 guideline resulted as expected in increased NICU admissions rate and postnatal survival of infants born at 24 weeks' GA. In the years after implementation, a shift in cause of death was seen from respiratory insufficiency towards necrotising enterocolitis and sepsis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F251-F257
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition
Issue number3
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021

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