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OBJECTIVE: To describe clinical pathways for infants with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) and short-term outcomes. DESIGN: Retrospective observational cohort study using the UK National Neonatal Research Database (NNRD). PATIENTS: Babies with a diagnosis of CDH admitted to a neonatal unit in England and Wales between 2012 and 2020. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Clinical pathways defined by place of birth (with or without colocated neonatal and surgical facilities), transfers, clinical interventions, length of hospital stay and discharge outcome. RESULTS: There were 1319 babies with a diagnosis of CDH cared for in four clinical pathways: born in maternity units with (1) colocated tertiary neonatal and surgical units ('neonatal surgical units'), 50% (660/1319); (2) designated tertiary neonatal unit and transfer to stand-alone surgical centre ('tertiary designated'), 25% (337/1319); (3) non-designated tertiary neonatal unit ('tertiary non-designated'), 7% (89/1319); or (4) non-tertiary unit ('non-tertiary'), 18% (233/1319)-the latter three needing postnatal transfers. Infant characteristics were similar for infants born in neonatal surgical and tertiary designated units. Excluding 149 infants with minimal data due to early transfer (median (IQR) 2.2 (0.4-4.5) days) to other settings, survival to neonatal discharge was 73% (851/1170), with a median (IQR) stay of 26 (16-44) days. CONCLUSIONS: We found that half of the babies with CDH were born in hospitals that did not have on-site surgical services and required postnatal transfer. Similar characteristics between infants born in neonatal surgical units and tertiary designated units suggest that organisation rather than infant factors influence place of birth. Future work linking the NNRD to other datasets will enable comparisons between care pathways.

Original publication




Journal article


Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed

Publication Date



Child Health Services, Neonatology