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Policies on Newborn Hospital Discharge Updated

Last Updated: January 28, 2010.

The length of the hospital stay for healthy term newborns should be based on a range of factors unique to each mother-child pair, according to a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics published online Jan. 25 in Pediatrics.

THURSDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- The length of the hospital stay for healthy term newborns should be based on a range of factors unique to each mother-child pair, according to a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics published online Jan. 25 in Pediatrics.

The authors recommend that discharge decisions should include input from the mother, the mother's obstetrician, and the nursing staff. The minimum criteria for discharging an infant born between 37 and 41 weeks of gestation include vital signs being within normal range and stable for 12 hours. The infant should also be urinating regularly and should have passed at least one stool spontaneously.

Other criteria include at least two successful consecutive feedings and the administration of an initial hepatitis B vaccine according to the current immunization schedule. Mothers should also have the ability and confidence to properly feed the infant, provide umbilical cord and circumcision-site care, identify common problems, and ensure a safe environment.

"Each mother-infant dyad should be evaluated individually to determine the optimal time of discharge. The timing of discharge should be the decision of the physician caring for the infant and based on these guidelines," the authors write. "Institutions should develop guidelines in collaboration with appropriate community agencies, and third-party payers, to establish hospital-stay and follow-up programs for healthy term infants that implement these recommendations."

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