Travel time from home to hospital should be no more than 20 minutes

February 1, 2011

Women who travel 20 minutes or more from home to their hospital by car at full term are more likely to suffer adverse neonatal outcomes.

Women who travel 20 minutes or more from their home to the hospital by car at full term are more likely to suffer adverse neonatal outcomes, suggests new research from the Netherlands.

The population-based cohort study looked at 751,926 full-term births in the Netherlands over a 7-year period from 2000 up to and including 2006. Researchers assessed the impact of travel time by car, calculated from the postal code of the woman's residence to the maternity unit, on neonatal outcome. Home births were excluded. Researchers calculated a mortality rate of 1.5 per 1,000 births; adverse outcomes occurred in 6.0 per 1,000 births.

A travel time of 20 minutes or more by car from home to hospital was associated with a 17% increased incidence of total mortality (odds ratio [OR], 1.17, 95% CI, 1.002–1.36), a 50% increase in neonatal mortality within 24 hours (OR, 1.51, 95% CI, 1.13–2.02), and a 27% increase in adverse outcomes, including an Apgar score less than 4 and/or admission to a neonatal intensive care unit (OR, 1.27, 95% CI, 1.17–1.38).

Ravelli A, Jager K, De Groot M, et al. Travel time from home to hospital and adverse perinatal outcomes in women at term in the Netherlands. BJOG. December 8, 2010. Epub ahead of print.