Parents Accuse Alabama Hospital of Using Premature Babies for Dangerous Medical Study

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
(photo: Ariel Schalit, AP)

An Alabama teaching hospital is being sued for exposing premature babies to death and blindness as part of a clinical study conducted last decade, and for not properly informing participating parents of the potential risks.


Five sets of parents filed the lawsuit claiming the University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital conducted research that was “unethical by design” while giving premature infants varying amounts of oxygen.


The plaintiffs claim their children suffered permanent neurological and vision damage, as well as death.


According to the complaint, the federal Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP)—which investigated the case—determined that the study violated “regulatory requirements for informed consent, stemming from the failure to describe the reasonably foreseeable risks of blindness, neurological damage and death.”


The OHRP, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, also found that participation in the study “did have an effect on which infants died, and on which developed blindness,” the plaintiffs say.


The study involved 1,300 premature and low-birth-weight infants who received different amounts of oxygen to assess the safety of the treatment.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:


University of Alabama Exposed Premature Babies to Death and Blindness (by Julia Flip, Courthouse News Service)

Why Preemie Oxygen Study Faces Scrutiny (by Rachael Rettner, My Health News Daily,

Listening to Mozart Helps Premature Babies Gain Weight (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

           Babies in U.S. More Likely to Die than Those in Cuba or Europe (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


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