-- Randy Dotinga
THURSDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- A newly developed
assessment tool may give doctors and parents a heads-up about the
kinds of medical problems that may face premature infants,
The PhysiScore allows doctors to use a computational method to
create a score based on factors such as a baby's pulse rate and
breathing rate during the first three hours after birth. In a new
study, researchers said they were able to use the electronic
scoring system to predict with a 91 percent to 98 percent degree of
accuracy whether an infant would have serious medical problems.
"The beauty is we don't have to stick anybody with a needle or do more expensive tests. Now we have the possibility of using the power of data already available in the intensive care unit to greatly improve care for premature infants," study co-author Dr. Anna Penn, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine and a neonatologist at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, said in a news release from the university.
The researchers, who report their findings in the Sept. 8 issue
of the journal
Science Translational Medicine, say their tool expands on the "Apgar" score, which doctors use shortly after birth to gauge the health of a newborn baby.
The researchers developed the PhysiScore system after studying
138 premature infants born between 2008 and 2009. All weighed less
than 4 pounds, 6.5 ounces, and were born at 34 weeks of gestation
Penn said the score provides more reliable information about a
baby's medical prospects than the Apgar score. "With a PhysiScore,
I could have two 25-week gestation, 700-gram [1.5-pound] babies and
know that they each have a very different individual risk profile,"
One expert, Dr. F. Sessions Cole, chief medical officer at St.
Louis Children's Hospital, said the Apgar score remains important
in part because it requires doctors to closely examine babies and
respond to medical problems.
"It is an important aid in assessing the success of the human newborn infant's transition from womb to world," Cole, who was not involved with the new study, said in an interview.
As for the new tool, Cole said more research is needed to prove
that it works.
For more on
premature babies, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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