Study: Early discharge puts newborns at risk

Adding fuel to the debate over so-called "drive-by" deliveries, a study published in the July 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association contends that babies discharged within 30 hours of birth have a greater risk than other babies of being rehospitalized within one month.

In a population-based, case-controlled study, researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle found that 17% of all newborns are discharged within 30 hours of delivery. Of those, first-born babies face a 25% greater risk of rehospi- talization than first-borns released 30 to 78 hours after delivery. Babies born to mothers younger than 18 run a 22% greater risk of rehospitalization when released early, and babies whose mother suffered a premature rupture of membranes run a 41% greater risk, according to the study.

Other factors related to rehospitalization include dehydration, sepsis, and jaundice, the researchers claim.