BOSTON — Two rows of plastic cocoons line the walls of the neonatal intensive care unit, sheltering babies so tiny, their little hands can’t wrap around their parents’ index fingers. Many have been treated with multiple medications in their short lives: antibiotics, anesthetics, narcotics, diuretics.
And most of the drugs coursing through their fragile bodies have not been approved for use in newborns.
That’s not just the case here at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center. It’s a global problem. Pharma companies are afraid to test drugs on babies because they’re so vulnerable, and because the risk of liability is so high. Parents and doctors say they’re wary of enlisting newborns as “guinea pigs” in clinical trials.
A dilemma indeed. We cringe at the thought of neonatal trials, yet in crisis we say “Yes, give my baby whatever you think will save his life.” What is going to be very important is that parents remain vigilant, as much as is possible. There are also databases like the National Birth Defect Registry (http://www.birthdefects.org/national-birth-defect-registry/) where researchers are collecting data about birth defect patterns and exposure to environmental factors, including medicines received prenatally.
Great information. Children’s Mercy hospital in Kansas City Missouri has an amazing pharmacology toxicology initiative referred to as Goldilocks. It’s a mathematical algorithm turn app that allows hospitals to find just the right dosage for just the right person. The Midwest (and this hospital in particular) is so understated. Consider interviewing doctors Leeder and Abdulrahman as your follow up to the story.
Great article, and interesting comment Pamela Frank. Is what you describe an algorithmic model to determine dosage?
For the author of the article–is there any working model, be it animal or synthetic or computerized, for simulated newborn testing? Would love follow up via email.
JANUARY 7, 2017 AT 7:43 PM
Rachel Sparks, I’m not a scientist or clinician, but it is my understanding that yes, it’s an algorithm that helps with dosage. Here’s some more information about it. https://www.childrensmercy.org/Clinics_and_Services/Clinics_and_Departments/Pharmacology_and_Toxicology/GOLDILOKS__Finding_the_Medication_Dose_That_s_Just_Right/
Nobody cares for your trump newsletter. Stop using stupid popups while i am reading the article.
Rachel Sparks, i’m not a scientist or clinician, but it is my understanding that yes, it’s an algorithm that helps with dosage. Here’s some more information about it. https://www.childrensmercy.org/Clinics_and_Services/Clinics_and_Departments/Pharmacology_and_Toxicology/GOLDILOKS__Finding_the_Medication_Dose_That_s_Just_Right/
Very enlightening. Im a mother and grandmother but knew none of this. I would have guessed neonatal care by now would be an inexact science at minimum. Now I dont know who to feel pity for more; the babies or the medical staff.
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