Short-term outcomes of infants with an extremely low birth weight in a resource-limited neonatal intensive care unit, Grey’s Hospital, KwaZulu-Natal

N P Luthuli, N H McKerrow


Background. Neonates with an extremely low birth weight (ELBW) constitute a small proportion of live births. However, there is limited information about the outcome of this specific group in developing countries, including South Africa (SA). 

Objective. To determine the outcome to discharge of ELBW neonates admitted to a resource-limited neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). 

Methods. A retrospective chart review was conducted of neonates admitted to the NICU at Grey’s Hospital between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2014. All neonates with a birth weight of <1 000 g and admitted to the unit within 24 hours of birth were included. 

Results. A total of 142 neonates met the inclusion criteria. Owing to lost files or incomplete data, 105 files were analysed in the final sample. The mean birth weight was 819.1 g and the mean gestational age was 27.5 weeks. The survival rate to discharge was 49.5%. Neonates born after 28 weeks of gestation and those with a birth weight of >900 g had better outcomes but without statistical significance. There were no statistically significant associations between outcome and any maternal variables. Nasal continuous positive airway pressure ventilation was associated with higher survival, but without statistical significance. 

Conclusion. The survival rate of ELBW neonates in this study is comparable to what has been reported in other developing countries, but higher than for other NICUs in SA with similar resource limitations. More studies are required to determine factors that may influence the survival rate of the ELBW neonates.

Authors' affiliations

N P Luthuli, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital

N H McKerrow, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, Durban, South Africa

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South African Journal of Child Health 2019;13(3):120-124. DOI:10.7196/SAJCH.2019.v13i3.1575

Article History

Date submitted: 2019-10-03
Date published: 2019-10-03

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