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May 1978

The Smallest Preterm Infants: Reasons for Optimism and New Dilemmas

Author Affiliations

Department of Pediatrics East Carolina University Medical School Greenville, NC 27834

Am J Dis Child. 1978;132(5):461-462. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1978.02120300021002

Recent medical advances have resulted in improved care of the mother and fetus during preterm labor and delivery, and of the preterm infant after delivery. As a consequence, the odds for survival and of survival without serious neurological residue appear to be much better than even a few years ago.

Despite the recent advances in medical care, preterm delivery remains the major contributor to perinatal mortality and morbidity. In an excellent study of the contribution made by preterm delivery to perinatal mortality at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, England, in 1973 and 1974, Rush et al1 found that only 5.1% of pregnancies resulted in preterm delivery, and that these infants resulted in 85% of all early neonatal deaths excluding those due to lethal malformations. Tables 1 and 2 show the actual neonatal survival rates by gestational age and by birth weight in Oxford in 1973-1974 and in Rochester, NY,

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