Racial Disparities and Trends in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Use, 2012-2016

Liyang Xie , University of Maryland
Michel Boudreaux, University of Maryland

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) care is highly valuable and has been linked to substantial reductions in infant mortality. Research of neonatal intensive care has focused on utilization by risk factors and lacks evidence on racial disparities. This study examined trends of NICU admission rates over a 5-year (2012-2016) period by race and ethnicity. We found that crude NICU admission rates increased from 77.6 in 2012 to 86.9 in 2016 per 1,000 live births. All races experienced an increase (p<0.001), with the rate for Non-Hispanic whites increasing by 17.3%, Non-Hispanic blacks by 17.1%, and Hispanics by 20.5% from 2012 to 2016. While adjusted for maternal/infant socio-demographics and clinical risk factors, Hispanics still had a higher rate compared with Non-Hispanic whites. In addition, the gap between Hispanics and non-Hispanics whites widened over time. Further study is needed into the causes of the increased use as well as the expanded racial disparities.

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 Presented in Session 9. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions; Gender, Race, & Ethnicity