Editorials

The outcomes of neonatal intensive care

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.310.6981.681 (Published 18 March 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:681
  1. Christine Sanderson,
  2. D M B Hall
  1. Lecturer in community child health Professor of community paediatrics Children's Hospital, Sheffield S10 2TH

    Let's use the results of research into early intervention

    Deform'd, unfinish'd, sent before my time Into this breathing world, scarce half made up, And that so lamely and unfashionable That dogs bark at me, as I halt by them;1

    Shakespeare identified the association between prematurity and disability 300 years before Little's classic description of spastic diplegia in 1862. Disability in surviving premature infants is still an important problem, particularly in those of extremely low birth weight.2 Most of the data on the incidence of disability and the costs and benefits of neonatal intensive care units come from a few research centres. A broader picture could be obtained by a standardised nationwide approach to the collection of data. There are two separate issues. Firstly, what are the outcomes of interest and how should they be monitored? Secondly, what proportion of childhood disability is attributable to the increased survival of babies nursed in neonatal intensive care units and how is the epidemiology of disability changing as a result?

    A recent report highlighted the inadequacies of the …

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