Glass HC, Costarino AT, Stayer SA, Brett CM, Cladis F, Davis PJ. Outcomes for extremely premature infants. Anesth Analg. 2015 Jun;120(6):1337-51. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000000705. Review. PubMed PMID: 25988638; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4438860.
Premature birth is a significant cause of infant and child morbidity and mortality. In the United States, the premature birth rate, which had steadily increased during the 1990s and early 2000s, has decreased annually for four years and is now approximately 11.5%. Human viability, defined as gestational age at which the chance of survival is 50%, is currently approximately 23–24 weeks in developed countries. Infant girls, on average, have better outcomes than infant boys. A relatively uncomplicated course in the intensive care nursery for an extremely premature infant results in a discharge date close to the prenatal EDC. Despite technological advances and efforts of child health experts during the last generation, the extremely premature infant (less than 28 weeks gestation) and extremely low birth weight infant (ELBW) (< 1000 grams) remain at high risk for death and disability with 30–50% mortality and, in survivors, at least 20–50% risk of morbidity. The introduction of CPAP, mechanical ventilation, and exogenous surfactant increased survival and spurred the development of neonatal intensive care in the 1970s through the early 1990s. Routine administration of antenatal steroids during premature labor improved neonatal mortality and morbidity in the late 1990s. The recognition that chronic postnatal administration of steroids to infants should be avoided may have improved outcomes in the early 2000s.
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