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Factors associated with early neonatal attendance to a paediatric emergency department
  1. C F Flanagan1,
  2. M Stewart2
  1. 1Department of Community Paediatrics, Carlisle Centre, Belfast, UK
  2. 2Department of Child Health, Queens University Belfast, Centre for Medical Education, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr C F Flanagan, Department of Community Paediatrics, Carlisle Centre, 40 Antrim Road, Belfast BT15 2AX, UK; Catherine81{at}


Aim To examine the demographic and perinatal factors involved in the presentation of newborn babies to a paediatric emergency department (PED) and outcome following attendance.

Methods Term babies who attended the PED of the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children (RBHSC) in the first 2 weeks of life, during two separate 3-month periods in summer and winter 2010–2011 were identified retrospectively from the PED electronic database. Perinatal and demographic data were also obtained on all babies born in the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital (RJMH) during the same time period.

Results A total of 223 attendances to the PED involving 208 babies were identified with almost equal distribution during summer and winter months. Almost two thirds (n=139, 62%) of babies presented out-of-hours. Over half of babies were self-referred by parent/carer. The most common presentation was feeding difficulty, vomiting or faltering growth, accounting for 36%. Significant factors associated with attendance to PED included birth weight <2500 g, deprivation and postnatal stay more than 2 days. Sixty-one babies (24%) presenting to PED were admitted to hospital. Significant factors for admission included age ≤48 h and presentation during the standard working day. Overall, a third of babies admitted stayed less than 24 h (34%).

Conclusions Large numbers of babies attend the PED in the first 2 weeks of life, commonly out of hours, from deprived areas and with feeding difficulties. A quarter of babies attending are admitted to hospital, with one-third discharged following an overnight stay. Services should be reevaluated, particularly in this current financial climate, in an attempt to find new models of care for these young babies.

  • General Paediatrics
  • Infant Feeding
  • Neonatology

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