(HealthDay News) – Preterm neonates born to low-income parents have a disproportionately high risk of developing posthemorrhagic hydrocephalus (PHH) that requires multiple surgeries and extensive follow-up, according to research published online Sept. 28 in Pediatric Neurosurgery.

Courtney Pendleton, of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a retrospective study of 40 consecutive patients at a single institution who underwent neurosurgical intervention for the treatment of PHH from prematurity. The authors sought to characterize the demographic profile of the patients.

The researchers found that 52.5 percent of patients were female, 57.5 percent were black, 62.5 percent had public insurance, and 65 percent were from families with a household income below the Maryland state median. Although differences were not statistically significant, patients from families with public rather than private insurance and whose incomes fell below the median household income tended to visit the emergency room more frequently.

“Our data indicate that the majority of patients fall within lower household income brackets, are born into households earning less than the statewide median household income, and are covered by public insurance,” the authors write. “In light of the socioeconomic profile of the patient population reported here, these data may prove to be useful in preventative strategies aimed toward prematurity, PHH, and the ongoing treatment of hydrocephalus by pediatric neurosurgeons and other pediatric subspecialists.”

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