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Am J Public Health. 1997 Jul;87(7):1151-5.

Hospital use and health status of women during the 5 years following the birth of a premature, low-birthweight infant.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.



This study examined the health status and hospital use of women after the birth of a premature, low-birthweight infant.


The subjects were women with infants who participated in a multisite, randomized trial of an early intervention program. The outcomes examined were (1) a maternal health rating of poor or fair (i.e., poorer health) 5 years following delivery and (2) hospital use for a non-pregnancy-related condition.


By the fifth year after delivery, 29.7% of the women had been hospitalized for a non-pregnancy-related condition. Women who reported poorer health status (adjusted relative risk [RR] = 2.39; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.86, 3.07) or who had asthma (RR = 2.24; CI = 1.31, 3.80) were at greatest risk. After 5 years, 16.9% of the women said they were in poorer health. The number of intervening years in poorer health (1 year, RR = 3.17; CI = 2.04, 4.94; > 1 year, RR = 8.42; CI = 2.20, 12.88), more than 1 year of poverty (RR = 3.28; CI = 1.90, 5.66), obesity (RR = 3.30; CI = 1.44, 7.55), and more than 1 year of employment (RR = 0.55; CI = 0.36, 0.86) were all significantly associated with poorer health.


The continued, substantial morbidity and hospital use of women with a premature, low-birthweight infant has not previously been reported. This observation needs to be verified.

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