According to a new study infants born during the night have a greater risk of infant and early neonatal death than those born during the day. There is also a greater chance of death for those born around 9am, which may be partly explained by hospital staff shift changes.
The research found the hours between 5pm and 1am are high risk periods for neonatal care.The observations confirm previous reports that infants born at night have a higher chance of early death, in the first six days, than those born during the daytime. The research, published in the British Medical Journal, revealed there had been no improvement over the past two decades.
It also found the consequences for preterm births were more serious - a problem which became worse in the 1990s. Between 1990 and 1995, there was a 60% increase in the risk of mortality related to asphyxia in preterm infants born at night, compared to preterm infants born during the day.
The Hong Kong study, based on data from the Swedish birth register, analysed more than two million births from 1973-95. The first risk period started from the end of the normal day shift and extended to the midnight shift. The second one, around 9am, was immediately after day shift staff were taking over responsibilities.