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OBJECTIVES: To determine if birth hospitalization length of stay (LOS) and infant rehospitalization changed during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) era among healthy, term infants.
METHODS: Retrospective cohort study using Epic's Cosmos data from 35 health systems of term infants discharged ≤5 days of birth. Short birth hospitalization LOS (vaginal birth <2 midnights; cesarean birth <3 midnights) and, secondarily, infant rehospitalization ≤7 days after birth hospitalization discharge were compared between the COVID-19 (March 1 to August 31, 2020) and prepandemic eras (March 1 to August 31, 2017, 2018, 2019). Mixed-effects models were used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (aORs) comparing the eras.
RESULTS: Among 202 385 infants (57 110 from the COVID-19 era), short birth hospitalization LOS increased from 28.5% to 43.0% for all births (vaginal: 25.6% to 39.3%, cesarean: 40.1% to 61.0%) during the pandemic and persisted after multivariable adjustment (all: aOR 2.30, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.25-2.36; vaginal: aOR 2.12, 95% CI 2.06-2.18; cesarean: aOR 3.01, 95% CI 2.87-3.15). Despite shorter LOS, infant rehospitalizations decreased slightly during the pandemic (1.2% to 1.1%); results were similar in adjusted analysis (all: aOR 0.83, 95% CI 0.76-0.92; vaginal: aOR 0.82, 95% CI 0.74-0.91; cesarean: aOR 0.87, 95% CI 0.69-1.10). There was no change in the proportion of rehospitalization diagnoses between eras.
CONCLUSIONS: Short infant LOS was 51% more common in the COVID-19 era, yet infant rehospitalization within a week did not increase. This natural experiment suggests shorter birth hospitalization LOS among family- and clinician-selected, healthy term infants may be safe with respect to infant rehospitalization, although examination of additional outcomes is needed.