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Benefit of Steroid Use on Preterm Infant Survival

There is a reason why children are healthier if they are allowed to gestate in their mother’s womb for 9.5 to 10 months. A large number of Illinois birth injuries are rooted in the problem of premature birth and underdevelopment. However, over the last few decades our medical community has made amazing strides in providing life-saving treatment to infants who are born too early. These advances allow children to survive who in eons past would not have made it. Those children are at an increased risk of suffering certain impairments as a result of their premature birth. However, the ability to give these children the chance to live out full lives should be a viewed as a tremendous achievement.

The advance in medical research to help premature infants continues. Slowly and steadily researchers are making even more advances in the area to save children born even earlier and with even more underdevelopment problems. For example, earlier this week the Daily Rx published a story discussing advances which have found that use of certain steroids has been found to boost the survival rate of even the most premature infants.

The study examined use of steroids by mothers who were at risk for premature birth-not use by infants who were born prematurely. Full term pregnancy is 40 weeks. The research found that steroid use by mothers can improve survival rates and limit brain injury in infants who are born even after only 22 weeks of pregnancy.

We mentioned the results of this study in a blog post last year. A research team at the Neonatal Research Network of the National Institute of Health analyzed relevant data on premature infants from 1993 to 2009. In addition, neurological exams were conducted on those infants who survived. The results indicate that steroids actually have benefit for infants born as early as 22 weeks. Previous research only found evidence of improvement at 25 weeks.

From the legal perspective there is often confusion about what happens when a child suffers severe injury after being born prematurely. Our Chicago birth injury attorneys understand that the public often remains unsure about the difference between a bad outcome and negligent care. There is a tendency to assume that if a child suffers a birth injury after being born prematurely, then there can be no legal case because the injury was obviously caused by the underdevelopment and not the medical care. Conversely, some could argue that all children who suffer a birth injury when born at full term must have been hurt by inadequate medical care.

Neither alternative is true.

As any birth injury lawyer should explain, the relevant issue is not the outcome but the conduct. No matter what the situation-premature birth or full term birth-there is a reasonable level of care (certain actions) that should be taken. The law is concerned with whether or not the doctors provided that reasonable level of care. The outcome itself does not play a role in the determination of negligence. A legal professional will be able analyze your particular situation and explain if potential civil laws regarding standards of care have been violated.

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