A study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrates widespread discriminatory denial of life-preserving medical treatment to premature infants based on fear that if assisted to live they might have disabilities – in defiance of protective federal law. provided a startling snapshot into the treatment of very premature infants.
The study looked at the survival and outcomes of almost 5,000 babies born before 27 weeks gestation at 24 hospitals from 2006 -2011. It found that 23% of infants are surviving at an astonishing 22 weeks gestation (20 weeks after fertilization) with treatment, but that many hospitals deliberately deny them life-saving medical treatment. In fact, the hospital attitude made the most significant difference in the probability of survival of these very premature babies.
Writing about this first major look into hospital practices regarding premature babies, Marilynn Marchione, AP’s Chief Medical Writer explains, “There was a wide range — some hospitals always gave active treatment to the youngest preemies as opposed to just comfort care, but others never did.”
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