BMJ Editorial: improving outcomes for preterm babies

Professor Peter Davis
Professor Peter Davis, director of neonatal medicine at the Women's
6 July 2016 | Pregnancy | Research and clinical trials

Three of the Women’s Newborn Research team today published an editorial in the BMJ analyzing a large international study into the care of preterm babies.

Professor Peter Davis, director of neonatal medicine and consultant neonatologists Dr Louise Owen and Dr Brett Manley from the Women's and the University of Melbourne suggested that this observational study represented a huge collaborative effort and delivered an important message for those caring for the most immature newborn infants.

The study was undertaken by a team of researchers in 11 countries to investigate the use of four evidence based practices for the care of very preterm infants and measure their association with death and severe illness.

In the BMJ editorial Professor Davis said the gap between research findings and clinical practice was well recognised.

“The EPICE (Effective Perinatal Intensive Care in Europe) group are to be congratulated on identifying an important shortfall in the uptake of neonatal evidence into practice,” he says.

“The next step is to develop and test interventions to overcome this shortfall and ultimately improve outcomes.

 “Getting good evidence into practice is an urgent priority for the families of vulnerable premature babies, and for the professionals who care for them.”

The authors wrote that neonatologists were “early adopters” of evidence based medicine, and the past decade had seen substantial growth in the conduct of well designed randomised trials.

They said it was sobering to find such a low uptake of the simplest and most effective strategies available.

They said the authors of the study were careful to express their results as showing association rather than causation.

“They have completed the first, important part of a difficult process. To prove that implementation of these strategies causes a reduction in mortality and morbidity, effective implementation strategies need to be identified and tested in prospective randomised trials."