In neonatal medicine, there is a grey area where professionals may be uncertain whether it is in the child’s best interests to start life-saving treatment. Without it, the infant dies. But the treatment can also do great harm. One of the foremost duties of medicine is often said to be to “do no harm”. But how much of a burden on the infant is acceptable? At what point is the hope simply too small to justify action?
The risk of dying from heart disease, chronic lung disease or diabetes in adulthood is twice as high for preemies —premature infants — as for the general population. Even those who were born just two to three weeks before term have a slightly increased risk.
Early skin-to-skin care is important for newborns. But should preterm babies have this same experience, or is it more important to get them right into an incubator?
Low birth weight babies are at higher risk of osteoporosis later in life, especially if they are born prematurely. Targeting these children with the appropriate diet and weight-bearing exercise can help improve the problem.