We were fortunate enough to host a lunch meeting with guest speaker Prof. Ola Didrik Saugstad on the theme of oxygen supplements to newborns following birth asphyxia.
Saugstad’s research efforts have been hugely influential in changing perspectives and practice regarding the resuscitation of babies following oxygen starvation at birth. While hospital practice previously favoured supplying newborns with pure oxygen, Saugstad’s research has focused upon showing how harmful this practice can be, and illustrating the benefits of alternatively providing oxygen-starved newborns with normal air. By 2012 the use of normal air was recommended in international health guidelines the world over. As a result of Saugstad and his colleagues’ pioneering research, death rates at birth following asphyxia have dropped by 30%: a figure that corresponds to saving the lives of several hundred thousand children every year.