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March 2015

Keeping Up With Outcomes for Infants Born at Extremely Low Gestational Ages

Author Affiliations
  • 1Academic Division of Neonatology, UCL Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Institute for Women's Health, University College, London, England
JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(3):207-208. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.3362

Neonatal intensive care has been one of the success stories of the past 30 years, with steadily improving survival and slowly improving long-term outcomes for infants born early. In the 1980s, few infants born at 25 through 26 weeks of gestation survived, but now high survival and low morbidity rates are expected throughout the developed world. The outcome for infants born at the decreasing limit of viability has continually evoked anxiety in terms of the balance between poor survival with high rates of neuroimpairment and the burden of providing intensive care for many weeks or months. In 1980, this limit was 25 through 26 weeks; now it is 23 weeks. This issue is frequently described as an ethical dilemma as to whether intensive care should be instituted for these children.1

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