Hospitalisation after birth of infants: cross sectional analysis of potentially avoidable admissions across England using hospital episode statistics

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Background: Admissions of infants in England have increased substantially but there is little evidence whether this is across the first year or predominately in neonates; and for all or for specific causes. We aimed to characterise this increase, especially those admissions that may be avoidable in the context of postnatal care provision.

Methods: A cross sectional analysis of 1,387,677 infants up to age one admitted to English hospitals between April 2008 and April 2014 using Hospital Episode Statistics and live birth denominators for England from Office for National Statistics. Potentially avoidable conditions were defined through a staged process with a panel.

Results: The rate of hospital admission in the first year of life for physiological jaundice, feeding difficulties and gastroenteritis, the three conditions identified as potentially preventable in the context of postnatal care provision, increased by 39% (39.55 to 55.33 per 1000 livebirths) relative to an overall increase of 6% (334.97 to 354.55 per 1000 livebirths). Over the first year the biggest increase in admissions occurred in the first 0-6 days (RR 1.26, 95% CI 1.24 to 1.29) and 85% of the increase (12.36 to 18.23 per 1000 livebirths) in this period was for the three potentially preventable conditions.

Conclusions: Most of the increase in infant hospital admissions was in the early neonatal period, the great majority being accounted for by three potentially avoidable conditions especially jaundice and feeding difficulties. This is may indicate missed opportunities within the postnatal care pathway and given the enormous NHS cost and parental distress from hospital admission of infants, requires urgent attention.


Original languageEnglish
Article number390
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2018


  • Infant admission, avoidable readmission, postnatal care