I think it is not only important that a publication be accurate but that, when errors have been made, corrections should be printed at least as prominently as the original article and with good grace. That's just the way we do things in the National Federation of the Blind.
So, when I received a letter from a reader who took issue with a statement made in an article in the April /May /June 1985 issue of Future Reflections, I checked it out. The article was, "A New Generation of Blind Children". The statement she disagreed with was, "All babies below 1000 gram weight will have RLF".
I talked first with the author and then with a highly respected medical expert, Earl A. Palmer, M.D., of the Department of Opthalmology at the Oregon Health Sciences University (Dr. Palmer is part of a medical team doing research on retinopathy of prematurity--RLF). Both agreed with our reader. The statement was not accurate.
Dr. Palmer believes that a high percentage of these infants will display signs of retinopathy of prematurity but most of them will not go blind. Actually, there are no good figures on the percentage of those infants in different birth-weight catagories who will go blind from retinopathy of prematurity. It is accurate to say that the less mature an infant is at birth, the more likely it will develop this disease within the first few months of life.
There continues to be agreement among the medical profession that excessive oxygen places a baby in danger of contracting retinopathy of prematurity Unfortunatly, there is no lower limit of oxygen that will protect a baby from the disease. Futhermore, if the oxygen level is too low, it can cause neurological complications.
As you can see, the final solution to RLF, or retinophty of prematurity, has not been found. We will undoubtedly be hearing more about it in the future.
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