To assess the potential impact of early post birth discharge in Canada.
Neonatal readmission was examined, based on hospital discharge data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, with a total of 2,144,205 infants from fiscal year 1989/90 to fiscal year 1996/97.
Neonatal readmission rates increased from 27.3 per 1,000 in 1989/90 to 38.0 per 1,000 in 1996/97, while mean length of hospital stay at birth decreased from 4.2 days to 2.7 days during the same period. The increase in readmission rate was more evident for dehydration and jaundice. The provinces and territories with decreased length of hospital stay at birth usually had increased neonatal readmission rate and earlier age at readmission. Between 1994/95 and 1996/97, compared with Newfoundland, the risks for neonatal readmission for dehydration were 5.7 and 5.5, and for jaundice were 4.5 and 2.7, respectively, for Alberta and Ontario.
Neonatal readmission rates for several conditions have increased substantially, associated with early post birth discharge policies adopted in Canada.