OBJECTIVES:

Risk factors for failure to thrive (FTT) readmissions, including medical complexity, have not been described. We sought to characterize children hospitalized for FTT and identify risk factors associated with FTT-specific readmissions during the current era of increasing medical complexity among hospitalized children.

METHODS:

This retrospective cohort study used the Pediatric Health Information System database of 43 freestanding children’s hospitals across the United States. The cohort included children <2 years of age with index hospitalizations for FTT between 2006 and 2010. The main outcome was FTT-specific readmission within 3 years. Using Cox proportional hazards models, we assessed the association of demographic, clinical, diagnostic, and treatment characteristics with FTT-specific readmission.

RESULTS:

There were 10 499 FTT hospitalizations, with 14.1% being readmitted for FTT within 3 years and 4.8% within 30 days. Median time to readmission was 66 days (interquartile range, 19–194 days). Nearly one-half of children (40.8%) had at least 1 complex chronic condition (CCC), with 16.4% having ≥2 CCCs. After multivariable modeling, increasing age at admission, median household income in the lowest quartile (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.23 [95% confidence interval, 1.05–1.44]), and prematurity-related CCC (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.46 [95% confidence interval, 1.16–1.86]) remained significantly associated with readmission.

CONCLUSIONS:

Nearly one-half of children hospitalized for FTT had a CCC, and a majority of FTT-specific readmissions occurred after the traditional 30-day window. Children with prematurity-related conditions and low median household income represent unique populations at risk for FTT readmissions.

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