Rambam Forum

Dilemmas in the Treatment of Premature Infants at the Borderline of Viability

Arthur I. Eidelman


As more reports emerge of improved mortality and morbidity rates in infants born at the edge of viability, there may be need to reassess protocols and recommendations that encourage only comfort care for infants who are born at less than 24 weeks’ gestation. Analysis of those studies that report extremely poor survival of these infants reveals that, all too often, the results are measures of a self-fulfilling prophesy that reflects a predetermined non-aggressive global policy of no resuscitation and minimal investment in intensive care. Furthermore, little distinction is made between high- and low-risk infants of the same gestational age despite repeated studies that indicate that one can identify - subpopulations that have as much as a 20-50% increased chance of surviving with little if any long-term neurodevelopmental impairment. Thus, the need to reassess current policies is discussed.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2011;2(4):e0066