To determine whether birth and care in the highest-level hospitals (level III) compared with birth in or postnatal transfer to lower-level hospitals (level II) are associated with 5-year morbidity in very preterm children.
A cohort study.
All surviving 5-year-old children born very preterm (gestational age
Abortion, particularly later-term abortion, and neonaticide, selective non-treatment of newborns, are feasible management strategies for fetuses or newborns diagnosed with severe abnormalities. However, policy varies considerably among developed nations. This article examines abortion and neonatal policy in four nations: Israel, the US, the UK and Denmark. In Israel, late-term abortion is permitted while non-treatment of newborns is prohibited. In the US, on the other hand, later-term abortion is severely restricted, while treatment to newborns may be withdrawn. Policy in the UK and Denmark bridges some of these gaps with liberal abortion and neonatal policy. Disparate policy within and between nations creates practical and ethical difficulties. Practice diverges from policy as many practitioners find it difficult to adhere to official policy. Ethically, it is difficult to entirely justify perinatal policy in these nations. In each nation, there are elements of ethically sound policy, while other aspects cannot be defended. Ethical policy hinges on two underlying normative issues: the question of fetal/newborn status and the morality of killing and letting die. While each issue has been the subject of extensive debate, there are firm ethical norms that should serve as the basis for coherent and consistent perinatal policy. These include 1) a grant of full moral and legal status to the newborn but only partial moral and legal status to the late-term fetus 2) a general prohibition against feticide unless to save the life of the mother or prevent the birth of a fetus facing certain death or severe pain or suffering and 3) a general endorsement of neonaticide subject to a parent's assessment of the newborn's interest broadly defined to consider physical harm as well as social, psychological and or financial harm to related third parties. Policies in each of the nations surveyed diverging from these norms should be the subject of public discourse and, where possible, legislative reform.
OBJECTIVE--To evaluate the outcome of pregnancy in Finnish women after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on 26 April 1986. DESIGN--Geographic and temporal cohort study. SETTING--Finland divided into three zones according to amount of radioactive fallout. SUBJECTS--All children who were exposed to radiation during their fetal development. Children born before any effects of the accident could be postulated--that is, between 1 January 1984 and 30 June 1986--served as controls. INTERVENTIONS--Children were divided into three temporal groups: controls, children who were expected to be born in August to December 1986, and children who were expected to be born in February to December 1987. They were also divided, separately, into three groups according to the three geographic zones. END POINT--Incidence of congenital malformations, preterm births, and perinatal deaths. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--There were no significant differences in the incidence of malformations or perinatal deaths among the three temporal and three geographic groups. A significant increase in preterm births occurred among children who were exposed to radiation during the first trimester whose mothers lived in zones 2 and 3, where the external dose rate and estimated surface activity of caesium-137 were highest. CONCLUSIONS--The results suggest that the amount of radioactive fallout that Finnish people were exposed to after the accident at Chernobyl was not high enough to cause fetal damage in children born at term. The higher incidence of premature births among malformed children in the most heavily polluted areas, however, remains unexplained.
Comment In: BMJ. 1989 May 20;298(6684):13842502266
To examine the accommodative amplitude and convergence in 10-year-old prematurely born children previously screened for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and to compare with full-term controls of the same age.
Two-hundred and thirteen prematurely born and 217 children born at term were included. Accommodative amplitude and near-point convergence were assessed, together with best-corrected visual acuity (VA). A questionnaire was answered regarding possible problems at school.
Binocular accommodation (P = 0.03) and convergence (P = 0.003) were significantly poorer in prematurely born children. Accommodation was correlated to neurological findings in the preterm group, but not to the degree of prematurity or stage of ROP. Regarding convergence there were no correlations to neurology, stage of ROP, or degree of prematurity. For neither accommodation nor convergence were any correlations with distance and near VA found. Preterm children had a higher prevalence of school problems, and there was an association with poor accommodation.
Prematurely born children had poorer accommodation and convergence than full-term children, but no association with near VA was found. The reduction of accommodative amplitude and convergence was small and was probably of little clinical significance. However, it may have additional effects on other ophthalmological problems and school problems in the preterm group.
In a population-based study cerebral palsy was diagnosed in 110 cases (2.4 per 1,000) among live born children with birth weight > or = 500 g (N = 45,976) during the 20-year period 1970-89 (cerebral palsy cases with a postneonatal etiology excluded). The incidence of cerebral palsy showed a linear declining trend from 2.8 per 1,000 in the first five-year cohort born 1970-74 to 2.0 per 1,000 in children born 1985-89 (p = 0.17). 15.9% of the decline in incidence of cerebral palsy from the first to the second ten-year cohort could be explained by a decreasing rate of low birth weight (500-2,499 g) in the population, from 4.2% 1970-79 to 3.8% 1980-89 (p