A new study provides evidence that babies delivered by Caesarean section and sent home within a day are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital with complications than those who stay two or more days.
But it also shows no significant correlation between short stays and readmissions for babies delivered vaginally.
The study by HCIA, the Baltimore-based healthcare information company, adds hard numbers to the debate over whether it's appropriate to discharge new mothers and babies in 24 hours or less. Maryland and New Jersey have passed laws on lengths of stay after a delivery, and federal legislation mandating longer stays has been introduced.
The study shows that babies delivered by C-section and discharged within 24 hours of delivery are 3.3 times more likely to become sick enough to be readmitted to the hospital than if they stay two or more days. The main causes of readmission are perinatal infections and disorders due to low birth weight, HCIA said.
The study found that infants who were delivered by Caesarean section and discharged within 24 hours had a readmission rate of 4.3%, or 43 babies out of every 1,000. C-section babies with lengths of stay of two to seven days had an average readmission rate of 1.3%.
Readmission rates of mothers who delivered normally and babies delivered vaginally who left the hospital in 24 hours or less showed no statistically significant differences from those who stayed longer.
HCIA based the study on 274,731 mothers with normal delivery and 1,418,416 newborns from its database of more than 10 million discharges.