Study Sparks Concern Over Oxygen Saturation in Preemies

May 16th, 2010

New findings from a recent study by a group of researchers led by the director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Division of Neonatology spark concern regarding the oxygen saturation levels in premature infants.

Recently, there has been a lean towards lower target ranges of oxygen saturation in premature babies to prevent a disorder that can result in vision loss and permanent blindnessretinopathy of prematurity (ROP). However, authors of the new study say when oxygen saturation levels are too low, there may be a decreased risk of retinopathy of prematurity, but an increased risk of death. Oxygen saturation is necessary to help premature infants breathe.

Study authors report that healthcare providers should be careful when targeting oxygen saturation levels in preemies, as too much could result in permanent vision loss, but too high could result in death. Authors say more studies need to be conducted regarding this matter.

“Health-care providers should try to prevent both too high and too low levels of oxygen saturation levels to optimize survival without retinopathy,” says Waldemar A. Carlo, M.D. professor of pediatrics and Edwin M. Dixon Chair in Neonatology at UAB.

Some 1,300 premature infants were involved in the study. All were born between 24 weeks and 27 weeks six days.

(Source: UAB)

Retinopathy of prematurity is a condition in which the blood vessels in the eye do not grow properly. There are five stages of the disorder, ranging from mild to severe. In the mildest cases, affected preemies will make a full recovery without treatment. In the most severe cases, however, affected newborns will experience a complete and permanent loss of vision.

Studies are still being conducted to determine how a healthcare provider’s role may contribute to the development of the disorder. If your infant was born with ROP and you would like to speak with an ROP attorney about seeking financial compensation for your child’s damages and pain and suffering, please contact us today.