Dutch doctors change policy on treating preterm babies

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 09 June 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:1383
  1. Tony Sheldon
  1. Utrecht

    The leading centre for the treatment of premature births in the Netherlands has decided in principle to stop the active intensive treatment of babies born before 25 weeks' gestation because of research showing poor prognosis.

    Neonatologists at the University Medical Centre in Leiden argue that many babies born before 25 weeks do not survive and those who do are likely to develop serious problems in later life. Elsewhere in the Netherlands, treatment is not offered until 26 weeks, though in neighbouring countries and in the United States there are limits of 23 or even 22 weeks.

    The head of neonatology at the Leiden centre, Dr Frans Walther, explained that the hospital had decided to increase the limit from 24 to 25 weeks because its own study of …

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