Admission to a special care nursery or neonatal intensive care unit

Babies are admitted to a special care nursery (SCN) or neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) if they require more specialised medical care and treatment than is available on the postnatal ward. Data are limited to liveborn babies who were born in hospital and discharged home, and may not include babies who were transferred between hospitals and then admitted to an SCN or NICU. Data exclude New South Wales and Western Australia.

The figure shows the proportion of liveborn babies by admission status to a special care nursery or neonatal intensive care unit by a range of factors for 2019. The figure also shows a line graph of trends in admission status between 2010 and 2019. In 2019, 18% or 31,473 liveborn babies were admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit or special care nursery.

Almost one in five (18%) babies required admission to SCN or NICU. Babies were more likely to require admission if they were born pre-term (80%), Indigenous (25%), of low birthweight (78%) or part of a multiple birth (68% for twins, 99% for other multiples).

Mothers were more likely to have a baby admitted to SCN or NICU if they were aged under 20 (23%), or 40 or older (21.5%), were Indigenous (26%), smoked during pregnancy (24.5%) or gave birth by caesarean section (25%).

The admission rate was also slightly higher among babies whose mothers lived in the lowest socioeconomic areas (20%) compared with those whose mothers lived in the highest socioeconomic areas (15.5%).