Remote Weight Monitoring Minimizes Office Visits for Newborns

Brittany Elyse Vargas

April 28, 2023

Dr Diane DiTomasso

WASHINGTON – Remote monitoring of infant weight reduced the number of office visits among newborns, according to a new study presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) 2023 annual meeting.

The pilot trial compared the frequency of office visits for healthy babies born at 37 weeks' gestation or later. One group of 20 infants had their weight monitored at home by parents, and another group of 20 infants received usual care, which included two in-person office visits over the first 6 weeks of life.

Researchers found that visits for infants in the intervention group decreased by 25% after the first week of life and by 23% after the second week. 

The remote method can help alert physicians earlier to insufficient weight because parents report gains or losses three times a week over the 6 weeks, resulting in more data for providers. 

"You're going to see fewer visits with people who have scales because the docs are getting the information they need, which is, 'Is this baby doing okay or not?'" said Diane DiTomasso, PhD, RN, a professor at the University of Rhode Island College of Nursing in South Kingstown, who was not involved with the study. "I think it's a very necessary study because, to my knowledge, nobody has done a randomized controlled trial on this topic."

Keeping infants at home can also protect babies from infections they might catch in the clinic.

"There are a lot of other kids in an office setting, and kids like touching things," said Anirudha Das, MD, MPH, a neonatologist at Cleveland Clinic Children's in Ohio and the lead author of the study. "When there are a lot of other kids, there are a lot of viruses. It's a very dangerous environment."

Parents in the intervention group were given scales and asked to enter their infant's weight into a patient portal app three times per week for 6 weeks. Physicians then determined if in-office visits were necessary. 

The benefits of home weight checks can include helping to allow for breastfeeding for a longer duration. 

Weight is more closely monitored for breastfed infants, and waiting weeks for office checks can heighten parental anxiety and lead to prematurely stopping breastfeeding, she said. With regular at-home checks, parents receive up-to-date information from physicians that can alleviate concerns and empower them with more control over the process, according to DiTomasso.

Breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer in later life, and a lower risk of breast cancer for breastfeeding parents.

Office weight checks can also alleviate a significant and unnecessary burden for parents, Das said.

Dr Anirudha Das

"You shouldn't have to put your baby in a car, possibly in freezing temperatures, hire someone to take care of your other kids, drive to the hospital, pay for parking, and walk to the office for a weight check," Das said.

Das noted that because of technical errors, parents weren't able to use remote monitoring and had in-person visits during the first 5 days of life. The intervention group had more visits during that period than the usual care group. 

The study was funded by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The authors and Das have reported no relevant financial relationships. 

Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) 2023 annual meeting. Abstract #646.

Brittany Elyse Vargas is a freelance writer who covers breaking news and medicine.

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