Should We Be Resuscitating 22 Weekers?
Until very recently, almost all babies born at 22 weeks of gestation died. That is starting to change. A number of recent studies show 30-50% survival with outcomes among survivors that are similar to outcomes for babies born at 23 and 24 weeks of gestation. However, most tertiary care centers, with support of bioethicists, still withhold active treatment from most babies born at 22 weeks. Is there any other situation in medicine in which doctors discover a remarkable new treatment for a previously fatal disease and other doctors show no interest in studying it or disseminating it? And bioethicists support them?
John Lantos, MD, is a general pediatrician and bioethicist. He has served as President of both the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities and the American Society of Law Medicine and Ethics. He has also held many leadership positions in the American Academy of Pediatrics. He has published hundreds of peer-reviewed articles and his books include The Lazarus Case, Neonatal Bioethics, and Do We Still Need Doctors?