Here’s a link to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that shows that results have been improving for premature infants born in the US over the last two decades. Here’s the “conclusion” paragraph from the abstract:
“Among extremely preterm infants born at US academic centers over the last 20 years, changes in maternal and infant care practices and modest reductions in several morbidities were observed, although bronchopulmonary dysplasia increased. Survival increased most markedly for infants born at 23 and 24 weeks’ gestation and survival without major morbidity increased for infants aged 25 to 28 weeks. These findings may be valuable in counseling families and developing novel interventions.”
It is encouraging to see that more babies are surviving. It also shows how there aren’t going to be more dramatic jumps in survival like those in the 1980s when the introduction of surfactant replacement made it possible to save babies in the 24-28 week range who previously would not have had a chance. And, the increase in bronchopulmonary dysplasia is not surprising. It’s an irritation of the bronchial tubes caused by too much time on the ventilator and too much oxygen. It’s something of a NICU-created illness. The more babies you save, the more cases of BPD are going to occur. For a while we were concerned our son might have it, but he seems to have grown out of it.