0709 GMT February 22, 2020
“We were interested in the differences in outcomes that exist for the earliest preterm infants among US academic medical centers,” Matthew A. Rysavy, study author, said. “There are large differences in outcomes, like mortality and childhood delays and disabilities, and we looked at this variation and wanted to understand why it exists,” Medical Daily wrote
Rysavy and his team studied nearly 5,000 babies born before 27 weeks at 24 hospitals within the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network; for comparison, babies are usually born 40 weeks into pregnancy. When looking over the data, researchers found babies born at 22 weeks had a nearly one in four chance of survival when they received active care. However, most hospitals did not provide this type of care at 22 weeks. Though during or after 25 weeks of pregnancy, hospitals almost always provided active care.
Researchers define this treatment as “any potentially lifesaving intervention administered after birth.” The alternative to active care is comfort care, in which doctors don’t intervene and simply do what they can to make the baby comfortable before he or she dies.
With such variation among hospitals, study co-author Edward Bell said “there is a real problem when doctors are talking to parents about their baby’s chances using outcome data that include babies for whom no active treatment was offered.”