The evolution of neonatology

Pediatr Res. 2005 Oct;58(4):799-815. doi: 10.1203/01.PDR.0000151693.46655.66. Epub 2005 Feb 17.


In 1960, the terms "neonatology" and "neonatologist" were introduced. Thereafter, an increasing number of pediatricians devoted themselves to full-time neonatology. In 1975, the first examination of the Sub-Board of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine of the American Board of Pediatrics and the first meeting of the Perinatal Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics were held. One of the most important factors that improved the care of the neonate was the miniaturization of blood samples needed to determine blood gases, serum electrolytes, glucose, calcium, bilirubin, and other biochemical measurements. Another factor was the ability to provide nutrition intravenously, and the third was the maintenance of normal body temperature. The management of respiratory distress syndrome improved with i.v. glucose and correction of metabolic acidosis, followed by assisted ventilation, continuous positive airway pressure, antenatal corticosteroid administration, and the introduction of exogenous surfactant. Pharmacologic manipulation of the ductus arteriosus, support of blood pressure, echocardiography, and changes in the management of persistent pulmonary hypertension, including the use of nitric oxide and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, all have influenced the cardiopulmonary management of the neonate. Regionalization of neonatal care; changes in parent-infant interaction; and technological changes such as phototherapy, oxygen saturation monitors, and brain imaging techniques are among the important advances reviewed in this report. Most remarkable, a 1-kg infant who was born in 1960 had a mortality risk of 95% but had a 95% probability of survival by 2000. However, errors in neonatology are acknowledged, and potential directions for the future are explored.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Male
  • Neonatology / history*
  • Pediatrics / history*