Neonatal endotracheal tube (ETT) size recommendations are based on limited evidence. We sought to determine data-driven weight-based ETT sizes for infants undergoing tracheal intubation and to compare these with Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) recommendations.


Retrospective multicenter cohort study from an international airway registry. We evaluated ETT size changes (downsizing to a smaller ETT during the procedure or upsizing to a larger ETT within 7 days) and risk of procedural adverse outcomes associated with first-attempt ETT size selection when stratifying the cohort into 200 g subgroups.


Of 7293 intubations assessed, the initial ETT was downsized in 5.0% of encounters and upsized within 7 days in 1.5%. ETT downsizing was most common when NRP-recommended sizes were attempted in the following weight subgroups: 1000 to 1199 g with a 3.0 mm (12.6%) and 2000 to 2199 g with a 3.5 mm (17.1%). For infants in these 2 weight subgroups, selection of ETTs 0.5 mm smaller than NRP recommendations was independently associated with lower odds of adverse outcomes compared with NRP-recommended sizes. Among infants weighing 1000 to 1199 g: any tracheal intubation associated event, 20.8% with 2.5 mm versus 21.9% with 3.0 mm (adjusted OR [aOR] 0.62, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.41–0.94); severe oxygen desaturation, 35.2% with 2.5 mm vs 52.9% with 3.0 mm (aOR 0.53, 95% CI 0.38–0.75). Among infants weighing 2000 to 2199 g: severe oxygen desaturation, 41% with 3.0 mm versus 56% with 3.5mm (aOR 0.55, 95% CI 0.34–0.89).


For infants weighing 1000 to 1199 g and 2000 to 2199 g, the recommended ETT size was frequently downsized during the procedure, whereas 0.5 mm smaller ETT sizes were associated with fewer adverse events and were rarely upsized.

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