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Ann Epidemiol. 2001 Jul;11(5):337-41.

The effect of surfactant on birthweight-specific neonatal mortality rate, New York City.

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  • 1New York City Department of Health, New York, NY, USA.



Surfactant has been shown to cause decreased neonatal mortality rate (NMR) in randomized studies of preterm infants. It is not clear whether the introduction of surfactant caused a decrease in neonatal mortality in a community. This study explores the hypothesis that the introduction of surfactant in 1990 to 1991 explains a decrease in neonatal mortality in New York City (NYC) among infants with birthweight of 500 to 1499 g.


For each of the 20 hospitals in New York City that began using surfactant in 1990 or 1991, we compared the NMR in the 2 years before the introduction of surfactant with the NMR in the 2 years after its introduction. Poisson regression models were fit to the death rates, adjusting for birthweight and other determinants of neonatal mortality.


NMR in the 20 hospitals decreased by 13.7% (from 231.3 to 199.6 neonatal deaths per 1000 live births). This decrease remained significant after adjusting for birthweight and other risk factors. Infants with birthweight 1000 to 1249 grams benefited most from the introduction of surfactant; their NMR decreased by 19.6%. After adjusting for birthweight, those born before the introduction of surfactant were 1.18 times as likely to die in the first 27 days as those born after the introduction of surfactant (95% CI 1.04, 1.33).


It appears that surfactant had a significant impact on NMR in NYC among very low birthweight babies.

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