Open Access Open Badges Research article

A national survey of admission practices for late preterm infants in England

Paul F Fleming12, Puneet Arora1, Rebecca Mitting1 and Narendra Aladangady123*

Author Affiliations

1 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

2 Centre for Paediatrics, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

3 Department of Paediatrics, SDM College of Medical Sciences & Hospital, Dharwad, India

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Pediatrics 2014, 14:150  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-150

Published: 17 June 2014



Infants born at 34+0 to 36+6 weeks gestation are defined as ‘late preterm’ infants. It is not clear whether these babies can be managed on the postnatal ward (PNW) or routinely need to be admitted to the neonatal unit after birth.


To conduct a national survey of admission practice for late preterm and low birth weight infants directly to the PNW after birth in England.


All neonatal units were identified from the Standardised Electronic Neonatal Database (SEND). Individual units were contacted and data collected on their admission practice.


All 180 neonatal units in England responded. 49, 84 and 47 Units were Special Care Units (SCUs), Local Neonatal Units (LNUs) and Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) respectively. 161 units (89%) had written guidelines in relation to direct PNW admission for late preterm infants.

The mean gestational age of infants admitted directly to the PNW was significantly lower in LNUs compared to SCUs and NICUs compared to LNUs. Mean birth weight limit for direct PNW admission was significantly lower in NICUs compared to SCUs.

72 units had PNW nursery nurses. There was no significant difference in gestational age or birth weight limit for direct PNW admission in the presence of PNW nursery nurses.


Admission practices of late preterm infants directly to the PNW varies according to designation of neonatal unit in England. Further studies are needed to establish the factors influencing these differences.

Late preterm infant; Low birth weight; Postnatal ward admission; Nursery nurse; Guideline