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Neonatologists and pediatricians highlight progress and barriers to preemie care
Date:2/19/2008

GAITHERSBURG, MD February 19, 2008 A recent survey of 202 neonatologists and pediatricians, which examined current attitudes and practices when caring for the specialized health needs of preterm infants, revealed that most respondents (70 percent) feel the United States healthcare system does not place enough emphasis on or dedicate enough resources to preventive healthcare for preemies. The survey was sponsored by MedImmune, Inc.

The incidence of preterm birth, when infants are born at less than 36 weeks gestation, has increased steadily in the United States since the mid-1990s. Because these babies lack the usual complement of antibodies, which are supplied by the mother to babies in late gestation, preterm babies are at high risk of getting a host of infectious diseases, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the leading cause of infant respiratory hospitalization in the United States. That risk can be even greater among infants that have an array of complex health problems including immune deficiencies, chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease and neurological disorders.

This survey reminds us that, while progress in preemie healthcare has been made, more still needs to be done to ensure that every preemie, regardless of his or her circumstances, receives the care he or she deserves, said Richard J. Martin, M.D., division chief of neonatology, Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio.

Additional key survey findings shed light on reasons why premature infants may not receive the specialized care they require:

Preemie care practices differ among doctors with varying levels of experience.

  • More than half (53 percent) of pediatricians with 10 years of experience or less relied on parents to find out if a patient was born prematurely, compared with just 14 percent of pediatricians with 21 plus years of experience. The more experienced pediatricians favored the hospital discharge summary
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Contact: Tor Constantino
301-398-5801
Edelman Public Relations
Source:Eurekalert

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