Research Article

The demand for neonatal intensive care.

BMJ 1989; 299 doi: (Published 25 November 1989) Cite this as: BMJ 1989;299:1305
  1. D. J. Field,
  2. S. Hodges,
  3. E. Mason,
  4. P. Burton,
  5. J. Yates,
  6. S. Wale
  1. Department of Child Health, University of Leicester.


    In a one year prospective study within the Trent Regional Health Authority the demand for neonatal intensive care was estimated to be 1.1 cots per 1000 births. Intensive care level 1 (as defined by the British Paediatric Association and British Association for Perinatal Paediatrics) was determined by two separate techniques, which showed close agreement. Intensive care level 2 could not be measured directly, as the definition was too subjective. This aspect of demand was therefore estimated by using data derived from the treatment of babies transferred for intensive care. These findings represent a minimum estimate of need, as the data were obtained from a service constrained by having facilities well below the estimated level (roughly 60% of estimated demand). In the future other factors such as increased survival of extremely preterm infants will be likely to increase demand still further.