High Oxygen Levels Help Preterm Survival

BETHESDA, Md., May 17 (UPI) — National Institutes of Health-supported studies suggest higher oxygen levels help improve preterm survival and provide information about how to deliver it.

In one project, led by Dr. Waldemar Carlo of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, researchers studied how much oxygen preterm infants — those born prior to 37 weeks of gestation — should receive starting on the first day of life and the most effective means of delivering it to them.

They determined higher oxygen levels improve preterm infants’ survival; however the increased oxygen also hikes the risk of a condition that can damage the retina.

In another study, led by Dr, Neil Finer of the University of California-San Diego, investigators determined treatment typically used for adults who suffer sleep apnea is also as effective as the traditional ventilator and surfactant therapy used to treat breathing difficulties in preterm infants — and might result in fewer complications.

The treatment relies on a continuous positive airway pressure machine to blow air through a preterm infant’s nostrils, to gently inflate the lungs.

The findings from both studies appear in the early online edition of The New England Journal of Medicine and were presented Sunday in New Orleans during a meeting of the American Thoracic Society.

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