Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Increased mortality of preterm infants transferred between tertiary perinatal centres.

British Medical Journal 1988; 297 doi: (Published 29 October 1988) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1988;297:1098
  1. E. Bowman,
  2. L. W. Doyle,
  3. L. J. Murton,
  4. R. N. Roy,
  5. W. H. Kitchen
  1. Newborn Emergency Transport Service, Victoria, Australia.


    Over 18 months almost one quarter of infants born before 30 weeks' gestation in a tertiary perinatal centre who required intensive care had to be transferred to other tertiary centres because intensive care facilities were fully occupied. When infants with lethal congenital malformations were excluded half of the 34 infants who were transferred died; this was twice the mortality (24%) in the 111 infants remaining. The difference between the groups was significant (relative odds = 3.1) and remained so after adjustment for any discrepancies in gestational age (relative odds = 4.0). After adjustment for potential confounding variables by logistic function regression the risk of dying for those transferred remained significantly higher than that for infants who remained (relative odds = 4.6, 95% confidence interval 1.8 to 12.1). As the requirement for neonatal intensive care is episodic and unpredictable more flexibility has to be built into the perinatal health care system to enable preterm infants delivered in tertiary perinatal centres to be cared for where they are born.