Early Vital Sign Differences in Very Low Birth Weight Infants with Severe Intraventricular Hemorrhage

Santina A. Zanelli, Maryam Abubakar, Robert Andris, Kavita Patwardhan, Karen D. Fairchild, Zachary A. Vesoulis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective Severe intraventricular hemorrhage (sIVH, grades 3 and 4) is a serious complication for very low birth weight (VLBW) infants and is often clinically silent requiring screening cranial ultrasound (cUS) for detection. Abnormal vital sign (VS) patterns might serve as biomarkers to identify risk or occurrence of sIVH. Study Design This retrospective study was conducted in VLBW infants admitted to two level-IV neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) between January 2009 and December 2018. Inclusion criteria were: birth weight <1.5 kg and gestational age (GA) <32 weeks, at least 12 hours of systemic oxygen saturation from pulse oximetry (SpO 2) data over the first 24 hours and cUS imaging. Infants were categorized as early sIVH (sIVH identified in the first 48 hours), late sIVH (sIVH identified after 48 hours and normal imaging in the first 48 hours), and no IVH. Infants with grades 1 and 2 or unknown timing IVH were excluded. Mean heart rate (HR), SpO 2, mean arterial blood pressure (MABP), number of episodes of bradycardia (HR < 100 bpm), and desaturation (SpO 2< 80%) were compared. Results A total of 639 infants (mean: 27 weeks' gestation) were included (567 no IVH, 34 early sIVH, and 37 late sIVH). In the first 48 hours, those with sIVH had significantly higher HR compared with those with no IVH. Infants with sIVH also had lower mean SpO 2and MABP and more desaturations <80%. No significant differences in VS patterns were identified in early versus late sIVH. Logistic regression identified higher HR and greater number of desaturations <80% as independently associated with sIVH. Conclusion VLBW infants who develop sIVH demonstrate VS differences with significantly lower SpO 2and higher mean HR over the first 48 hours after birth compared with VLBW infants with no IVH. Abnormalities in early VS patterns may be a useful biomarker for sIVH. Whether VS abnormalities predict or simply reflect sIVH remains to be determined. Key Points A higher HR in the first 48 hours is seen in infants with severe IVH. Infants with sIVH have lower blood pressure in the first 48 hours. Infants with sIVH have more oxygen desaturations in the first 48 hours.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican journal of perinatology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • biomarker
  • intraventricular hemorrhage
  • preterm infant
  • very low birth weight
  • vital signs


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