Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Excess child mortality after discharge from hospital in Kilifi, Kenya: a retrospective cohort analysis

Jennifer C Moïsi, Hellen Gatakaa, James A Berkley, Kathryn Maitland, Neema Mturi, Charles R Newton, Patricia Njuguna, James Nokes, John Ojal, Evasius Bauni, Benjamin Tsofa, Norbert Peshu, Kevin Marsh, Thomas N Williams & J Anthony G Scott

Objective

To explore excess paediatric mortality after discharge from Kilifi District Hospital, Kenya, and its duration and risk factors.

Methods

Hospital and demographic data were used to describe post-discharge mortality and survival probability in children aged < 15 years, by age group and clinical syndrome. Cox regression models were developed to identify risk factors.

Findings

In 2004–2008, approximately 111 000 children were followed for 555 000 person–years. We analysed 14 971 discharges and 535 deaths occurring within 365 days of discharge. Mortality was higher in the post-discharge cohort than in the community cohort (age-adjusted rate ratio, RR: 7.7; 95% confidence interval, CI: 6.6–8.9) and declined little over time. An increased post-discharge mortality hazard was found in children aged < 5 years with the following: weight-for-age Z score < −4 (hazard ratio, HR: 6.5); weight-for-age Z score > −4 but < −3 (HR: 3.4); hypoxia (HR: 2.3); bacteraemia (HR: 1.8); hepatomegaly (HR: 2.3); jaundice (HR: 1.8); hospital stay > 13 days (HR: 1.8). Older age was protective (reference < 1 month): 6–23 months, HR: 0.8; 2–4 years, HR: 0.6. Children with at least one risk factor accounted for 545 (33%) of the 1655 annual discharges and for 39 (47%) of the 83 discharge-associated deaths.

Conclusion

Hospital admission selects vulnerable children with a sustained increased risk of dying. The risk factors identified provide an empiric basis for effective outpatient follow-up.

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