A study was conducted to see if the discharge weight of preterm infants born at less than or equal to 2000 g could safely be reduced. A study group (21 infants) was discharged 'early' at a mean weight of 2010 g (1890-2190) provided there were no medical problems, weight gain was adequate, temperature control in room air was stable, all feedings were by breast, and the mother was ready to have the baby home. A control group (17 infants) was discharged at a mean weight of 2261 g (2200-2400). The duration of time in hospital for the 'early' group was shortened by 11.6 days. At expected date of delivery the weight of infants in each group was similar (3095 +/- 403 compared with 3146 +/- 453 g); length, head circumference, and haemoglobin concentration in each group were similar too. There was no morbidity or mortality in either group. Early discharge did not affect mothering confidence. This study shows that low birthweight infants can be discharged early (at 2000 +/- 100 g) provided appropriate criteria are met, home conditions are adequate, and follow-up is available.
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