Importance: In preterm infants, mechanical ventilation (MV) is associated with adverse pulmonary and neurodevelopmental outcomes. Multiple randomized clinical trials over the past 2 decades have shown the effectiveness of early noninvasive ventilation (NIV) in decreasing the use of MV in preterm infants. The epidemiologic factors associated with respiratory support in US preterm infants and any temporal changes after these trials is unknown.
Objective: To evaluate temporal changes in MV and noninvasive respiratory support in US preterm infants.
Design, setting, and participants: In a cohort design, 2 large national data sets (Pediatrix Clinical Data Warehouse for the clinical cohort and National Inpatient Sample for the national cohort) were used to collect data on preterm infants (<35 weeks’ gestation) without congenital anomalies who received active intensive care and were discharged home or died in the birth hospital from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2018. Data analysis was conducted from December 10, 2019, to December 16, 2020.
Exposure: Discharge year.
Main outcome and measures: In the clinical cohort, detailed respiratory support data were generated, including days of MV and NIV modalities, and temporal trends were evaluated using multivariable modified Poisson or negative binomial regression models with discharge year as a continuous variable. In the national cohort, observed and expected national MV use were calculated.
Results: Among 259 311 infants (47.2% female) in 359 neonatal intensive care units in the clinical cohort, decreases were noted in the use (from 29.4% of infants in 2008 to 18.5% in 2018, relative risk for annual change, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.95-0.96) and duration (mean days, from 10.3 in 2008 to 9.7 in 2018; rate ratio for annual change, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.97-0.98) of MV. Noninvasive ventilation use increased from 57.9% of infants in 2008 to 67.4% in 2018 (adjusted relative risk for annual change, 1.02; 95% CI, 1.02-1.03), and mean NIV duration increased by 3.2 days (95% CI, 2.9-3.6 days). With increased use of continuous positive airway pressure and nasal intermittent positive-pressure ventilation as the main factors in the increase, the mean duration of respiratory support increased from 13.8 to 15.4 days (adjusted rate ratio for annual change, 1.03; 95% CI, 1.02-1.04) from 2008 to 2018. Among 1 169 441 infants in the national cohort, MV use decreased from 22.0% in 2008 to 18.5% in 2018, with an estimated 29 700 fewer ventilated infants and 142 000 fewer days of MV than expected during this period.
Conclusions and relevance: These findings suggest that preterm respiratory support changed significantly from 2008 to 2018, with decreased use and duration of MV, increased use and duration of NIV, and an overall increase in respiratory support duration.