BackgroundThe optimal approach for reporting reintubation rates in extremely preterm infants is unknown. This study aims to longitudinally describe patterns of reintubation in this population over a broad range of observation windows following extubation.MethodsTiming and reasons for reintubation following a first planned extubation were collected from infants with birth weight ≤1,250 g. An algorithm was generated to discriminate between reintubations attributable to respiratory and non-respiratory causes. Frequency and cumulative distribution curves were constructed for each category using 24 h intervals. The ability of observation windows to capture respiratory-related reintubations while limiting non-respiratory reasons was assessed using a receiver operating characteristic curve.ResultsOut of 194 infants, 91 (47%) were reintubated during hospitalization; 68% for respiratory and 32% for non-respiratory reasons. Respiratory-related reintubation rates steadily increased from 0 to 14 days post-extubation before reaching a plateau. In contrast, non-respiratory reintubations were negligible in the first post-extubation week, but became predominant after 14 days. An observation window of 7 days captured 77% of respiratory-related reintubations while only including 14% of non-respiratory cases.ConclusionReintubation patterns are highly variable and affected by the reasons for reintubation and observation window used. Ideally, reintubation rates should be reported using a cumulative distribution curve over time.