Newborn Morbidities and Health Changes: The First Eight Weeks
Recent health care legislative acts, federal budget cuts, and changes in health care reimbursement are posing significant challenges for mothers accessing health care for their infants. There is very little reported literature on post-birth newborn morbidity and associated charges for full-term infants within the first two months of life, a time of increased risk for mortality.
Purpose: To examine infant morbidities, associated health care charges, and access to health care within the first eight weeks in healthy, full-term infants born to low-income, first-time mothers.
Design: A secondary analysis of data from a randomized clinical trial that compared infants’ health and newborn health care charges.
Methods: Data on infant morbidity and health care charges on 139 first-time mothers and their healthy full-term newborns were collected at one and two months post-hospital discharge. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and two-sample t-tests.
Findings: The most common infant morbidity was upper respiratory illness. Morbidities occurred as early as day two post-hospital discharge. Total charges were emergency room visits — $24,255, urgent care visits — $2,937, and rehospitalizations — $56,377. Most newborns received a well-baby clinic visit within 48 to 72 hours post-hospital discharge.
Conclusion: Studies of morbidities, health care charges, and access to care for infants two months and less are very limited. However, such data are important because of increasing health care costs, health care budget cuts, and the lack of an infant morbidity surveillance system.