Experts Criticize Premature Infant Study

A watchdog group at the Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday that the families of up to 1,300 premature babies at two hospitals were not informed of the risks of an experimental treatment. The 2005–09 study tested whether getting less-than-the-average amount of supplemental oxygen—something key to a premature infants’ survival—could help prevent blindness. The results showed that the premature infants who received the supplementary oxygen at a higher range had no more blindness than those who received less—contrary to findings found more than 50 years ago. Before parents signed off on the experiment, the risks of not giving enough oxygen were downplayed to them, while the benefits were emphasized.