To assess the economic impact of the posthospitalization care of very low birth weight (VLBW) infants, the costs incurred in the first year of life by 32 VLBW infants were compared with those incurred by 34 term, comparison infants. Diaries and quarterly interviews revealed that VLBW infants averaged $10 139 in direct medical charges compared with $1179 for the term infants; the differential in charges was greatest in the first two quarters and virtually disappeared by the fourth quarter. In addition, expenditures associated with transportation and child care presented an added substantial burden, although only the former were significantly higher for the VLBW infants. Clinicians may need to inquire specifically about the burden on family resources because, despite the economic burden and evidence of less social support, the parents of VLBW infants were less likely to perceive their child's care as having an impact on the family than were the parents of term children.

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