Research Article

Early discharge of infants of low birth weight: a prospective study.

Br Med J 1975; 1 doi: (Published 15 February 1975) Cite this as: Br Med J 1975;1:362
  1. B Singer,
  2. J Wolfsdorf


    A total of 495 African infants of low birth weight were discharged from Harari Maternity Hospital, Salisbury, between October 1972 and September 1973. Criteria used for discharge were (a) no clinical evidence of disease, (b) satisfactory feeding by mouth (breast or bottle or both), and (c) stable temperature control under normal room conditions. Of the 495 babies 264 fulfilled these criteria when they weighed 1801-1900 g (group 1), 99 when they weighed 1901-2000 g (group 2), and 132 (group 3) when they weighed 2001-2500 g. The overall follow-up rate of those infants living in greater Salisbury was 85-5%, the health visitor playing an important contributory role in their progress, especially those in group 1. More than two clinic visits in the first four to five weeks after discharge were essential for continuing weight gain in groups 1 and 2 but not in group 3. The mean daily weight gain for all babies at the end of four to five weeks was 26 g. Readmission rates for babies in groups 1,2, and 3 were 9-5%, 1%, and 0-8%, respectively, the largest single cause for readmission being bronchopneumonia associated with hypothermia. Altogether 60% of the readmissions occurred during the two winter months (June and July). Hypothermia, associated with low environmental temperatures played a significant part in morbidity and mortality, and twins, particularly in group 1, had a mortality rate three times greater than singletons in the same group. In general, even in underdeveloped communities singleton babies born outside the winter months with reasonable clinic or home visiting facilities can be discharged at a weight of 1800 g or more.