In this segment, “Helping Preterm Babies to Breathe After Birth: Short- and Long-Term Consequences,” Dr. Lex Doyle and Dr. Eric Gibson discuss trends in health outcomes for premature infants.
The last few decades have brought significant improvements in survival for extremely preterm infants. However, long-term respiratory and neurodevelopmental outcomes have not demonstrated a reversed trend. The pulmonary function of children and young adults born extremely premature in the 1990s and 2000s has declined over time, suggesting that our practices in providing respiratory support in the neonatal intensive care unit may be flawed. Additionally, these children have also shown a progressive decline in academic performance and cognitive ability. Other newer neonatal therapies such as caffeine and advances in nutritional practices have, however, begun to show improvements in long term health outcomes for former premature infants, and may provide an array of hope for enhancing quality of life.