Ultrasound has been routinely used since late 1979 to diagnose periventricular-intraventricular hemorrhage in infants whose gestational age was 34 weeks or less. During the years 1980 to 1987 the ultrasound scans were interpreted by one person, and a steady decline in incidence of periventricular-intraventricular hemorrhage was observed. Both for infants of 34 weeks or less and for very low birth weight (<1500 g) infants, periventricular-intraventricular hemorrhage incidence decreased, respectively, from 34% and 39% in 1980 to 1981 to 19% and 25% in 1986 to 1987. This decrease was confined to true intraventricular hemorrhages, which decreased from 22% in 1980 to 1981 to 7% in 1986 to 1987 for infants of ≤34 weeks' gestation. These results were not influenced by a change in the distribution of birth weights or gestational ages of the infants evaluated nor by a change in the inborn to outborn ratio. The incidence of periventricular-intraventricular hemorrhage was lower in infants born by cesarean section than those delivered vaginally, but the decrease could not be attributed to an increased number of deliveries by cesarean section. Although there were undoubtedly changes in neonatal care during this time period, no planned intervention occurred. It was concluded that pharmacologic intervention studies must be interpreted with caution.

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