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November 1971

Discharging Infants of Low Birth Weight: Reconsideration of Current Practice

Author Affiliations

From the departments of pediatrics, Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School (Dr. Berg); and the Massachusetts Committee on Children and Youth (Dr. Salisbury). Dr. Salisbury is now with the National Foundation—March of Dimes, New York.

Am J Dis Child. 1971;122(5):414-417. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1971.02110050084009

Physiological and social criteria were used in discharging 170 newborns weighing 2,268 gm (5 lb) or less at birth from the hospital at an average weight of 2,062 gm (4 lb 8¾ oz). Criteria for discharge did not include attainment of any specific weight. Mean hospital stay was 12 days. Follow-up of 167 infants revealed that none had died within two months of discharge. The rationale for reducing length of hospitalization is to expedite, encourage, and thereby enhance early maternal-infant relationships. Reducing the risk of hospital-associated infection, and economy in nursing time and dollar savings are fortuitous by-products. We question widespread practices regarding length of hospitalization of low-birth-weight infants.

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