Are We Doing Too Much to Save Preemies?

August 22, 2012
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In the 1960s, when the first NICUs opened, premature infants had a 95 percent chance of dying. Today, they have a 95 percent chance of survival…Now we face a difficult choice, one not unlike that facing physicians who take care of adults near the end of their life: whom to fight for and whom to let go.

In the 1960s, when the first NICUs opened, premature infants had a 95 percent chance of dying. Today, they have a 95 percent chance of survival…Now we face a difficult choice, one not unlike that facing physicians who take care of adults near the end of their life: whom to fight for and whom to let go.

Survivors of extreme prematurity have frequent, and often severe, complications during their time in the NICU. In the worst cases, these children will suffer lifelong disabilities: cerebral palsy; severe visual impairment that thick glasses and eye surgery can only partly correct; scarred lungs that will leave them reliant on oxygen tanks; intellectual and behavioral problems that put them well behind their peers.

More on quality of care to premature babies in the NYT.