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In 1942, Terry described the first infant who had grey, blood vessel-covered membranes behind the pupil. As more cases were described, the name retrolental fibroplasia (RLF) was coined (Fig. 1 ). Distressingly, it became common around the world in special units for preterm infants. Pathologic specimens were rare (Fig. 2 ) , but serial examinations of preterm infants following birth revealed that infants were not born with RLF; they developed it after birth. By the end of the 1940s, many innovations in the new preterm infant nurseries had been implicated, some were exonerated, and it was time to examine the role of oxygen.

The first multicenter, randomized, controlled trial in neonatology provided telegraph randomization of infants weighing less than 1,500 g who survived for 48 hours. Routine care at the time was to administer oxygen for approximately 4 weeks because of...

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