Short Hospital Stays for Births More Common During Pandemic

Pregnant African American woman holding her stomach in hospital
No increase seen in infant rehospitalizations within seven days after earlier discharge to home for healthy, term infants.

HealthDay News — In the COVID-19 era, short birth hospitalization lengths of stay (LOS) occurred more often, according to a study published online Oct. 12 in Pediatrics.

Sara C. Handley, M.D., from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study using Epic Systems Corporation Cosmos data from 35 health systems for term infants discharged within five days of birth. Comparisons of short birth hospitalization LOS (fewer than two midnights for vaginal birth or three midnights for cesarean birth) and infant rehospitalization within seven days after birth hospitalization discharge were performed for the COVID-19 (March 1 to Aug. 31, 2020) and pre-pandemic (March 1 to Aug. 31, 2017, 2018, and 2019) eras. Data were included for 202,385 infants (57,110 from the COVID-19 era).

The researchers found that during the pandemic, short birth hospitalization LOS increased from 28.5 to 43.0 percent for all births (vaginal: 25.6 to 39.3 percent; cesarean: 40.1 to 61.0 percent), which persisted after multivariable adjustment (adjusted odds ratios, 2.30, 2.12, and 3.01 for all, vaginal, and cesarean births, respectively). Infant rehospitalizations decreased slightly during the pandemic (1.2 to 1.1 percent), despite shorter LOS; in an adjusted analysis, results were similar (adjusted odds ratios, 0.83, 0.82, and 0.87 for all, vaginal, and cesarean births, respectively). The proportion of rehospitalization diagnoses did not change between eras.

“Short infant birth hospitalization LOS was 51 percent more common than prepandemic,” the authors write. “Yet, counter to our hypothesis, infant rehospitalization within a week of discharge did not increase.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to health information technology companies, including Epic Systems Corporation.

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