Pediatrics. 2023 Jan 3:e2022057865. doi: 10.1542/peds.2022-057865. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: High-risk infant follow-up programs (HRIFs) are a recommended standard of care for all extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants to help mitigate known risks to long-term health and development. However, participation is variable, with known racial and ethnic inequities, though hospital-level drivers of inequity remain unknown. We conducted a study using a large, multicenter cohort of ELBW infants to explore within- and between-hospital inequities in HRIF participation.
METHODS: Vermont Oxford Network collected data on 19 503 ELBW infants born between 2006 and 2017 at 58 US hospitals participating in the ELBW Follow-up Project. Primary outcome was evaluation in HRIF at 18 to 24 months’ corrected age. The primary predictor was infant race and ethnicity, defined as maternal race (non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, Asian American, Native American, other). We used generalized linear mixed models to test within- and between-hospital variation and inequities in HRIF participation.
RESULTS: Among the 19 503 infants, 44.7% (interquartile range 31.1-63.3) were seen in HRIF. Twenty six percent of the total variation in HRIF participation rates was due to between-hospital variation. In adjusted models, Black infants had significantly lower odds of HRIF participation compared with white infants (adjusted odds ratio, 0.73; 95% confidence interval, 0.64-0.83). The within-hospital effect of race varied significantly between hospitals.
CONCLUSIONS: There are significant racial inequities in HRIF participation, with notable variation within and between hospitals. Further study is needed to identify potential hospital-level targets for interventions to reduce this inequity.