Why I am working to save high-risk infants in Alabama
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Mar 12, 2013 | 2939 views |  0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Re “Time for Dial and Laird to go” (Speak Out, March 6):

I wish to remind letter writer Alan Hurst that Alabama ranks at the top for infant deaths in America and ahead of many Third World countries. Some of our counties have an infant mortality rate in excess of 25 percent. That should both shock and sadden each of us. Unfortunately, Randolph and Cleburne counties are near the top in Alabama infant mortality deaths.

We are working with the Alabama Department of Public Health to reduce the unnecessary deaths of these precious children. Almost all other states allow physicians to determine the need and duration for prescription medication used to help prevent a serious lung disease caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in children at high risk for severe lung disease from RSV. This helps protect children who are born prematurely during RSV season, which often results in extended hospital stays, pneumonia and, sadly in some cases, death.

This is not a lifelong drug, this is something given to infants who are born prematurely during RSV season to help provide them the antibodies to fight off RSV until their bodies can develop them naturally. My objective is simple: give physicians every possible tool to save the lives of our future.

Hurst quoted a doctor from Huntsville who felt we were trying to mandate the use of a drug, which is incorrect. We have said let physicians determine the need, but do not limit or make it nearly impossible through a cumbersome process for a physician to administer a preventative medication for a high-risk premature infant.

So, Mr. Hurst, the next time an infant dies from RSV or a related symptom (pneumonia), I will ask the parents to invite you to the funeral so you can see the small casket and console the parents who have just lost a precious part of themselves. Maybe you can explain to the parents why you were opposed to children having medication necessary for their survival.

I received $500 from a medical company (less than one-tenth of 1 percent of my total campaign contributions), but if I had received $10,000 or $1, I would still work to save the premature babies who are classified as high risks. It should be unacceptable to everyone that Alabama is at the top in premature infant deaths in America. As long as I serve, I will work to save and improve the lives of all of our children.

State Sen. Gerald Dial
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