John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Friday, August 11, 2006
  Reducing babies oxygen intake
This is an interesting study where 34 babies were given reduced oxygen for an average of 6.9 hours by only giving them 15% oxygen in the air they breathe rather than the normal 20%.

In 4 infants exposure to hypoxic conditions was ended early because of prolonged and severe falls in oxygen saturation.

Now this is what is called a "non-theraputic" intervention. That is something is done to the babies which is not to improve their health. That something is to reduce the amount of oxygen they breathe.

This sounds a very odd thing for anyone to agree to for their 3 month old child.

In particular (see above italics) it caused material problems for about 10% of the babies.
 
Comments:
'This sounds a very odd thing for anyone to agree to for their 3 month old child.'

From the linked report:
"We became interested in the effects of airway hypoxia on respiratory control in infants after two sets of parents attending our outpatient clinic reported that their infants had died of the sudden infant death syndrome after intercontinental flights; one infant had died between 14 and 19 hours after a flight and the other had died between 40 and 41 hours later."

"34 healthy infants (20 boys) born at term; mean age at study 3.1 months. 13 of the infants had siblings whose deaths had been ascribed to the sudden infant death syndrome."

This may help explain willingness to 'put babies forward'.

I don't know how well research into sudden infant death syndrome is progressing in general, though; I am not an expert.
 
Save that the circumstances were not comparable (for this you have to see the Griffiths report).

It did not test for these circumstances.
 
I merely meant that the motivation lies in trying to understand sudden infant death syndrome and how the idea originated.

I acknowledge the statement in the link:
'We do not know whether our experimental conditions are identical to those of air travel and its effect on respiratory responses in infants.'
 
I would not deny that the research is motivated in part at least by a desire to know what happens.

The questions remains, however, as to whether or not the research is ethical.
 
Maybe you are reacting strongly to the words prolonged and severe, which is understandable, I suppose.

In context, "prolonged and severe falls in oxygen saturation" are <=80% for 1 min.

Pikes peak is one area where other research has been carried out, see for example: http://www.emedicine.com/ped/byname/pulmonary-hypertension-high-altitude.htm (see paragraphs near end on newborns)

I agree that the ethics of risk-taking, by whom and for what purpose, is an important political issue. I am certainly glad to see you taking an interest in a wide range of issues.
 
The question is whether a reduction in the barometric pressure causes a change in breathing patterns to compensate that does not occur when only the proportion of oxygen is changed.

That is one reason why the particular experiment did not compare to the change when going to high altitude (or in a plane).
 
Yes, with just a little thought the report could have said:
'We know that our experimental conditions are NOT identical to those of air travel', instead of what was written, as above.

As that apparently wasn't exactly the aim anyway, this was maybe just an uncarefully chosen afterthought; maybe even put in by the lawyers, who knows?
 
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