Supplemental oxygen in the newborn: Historical perspective and current trends

Maxwell Mathias*, Jill Chang, Marta Perez, Ola Saugstad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Oxygen is the final electron acceptor in aerobic respiration, and a lack of oxygen can result in bioenergetic failure and cell death. Thus, administration of supplemental concentrations of oxygen to overcome barriers to tissue oxygen delivery (e.g., heart failure, lung disease, ischemia), can rescue dying cells where cellular oxygen content is low. However, the balance of oxygen delivery and oxygen consumption relies on tightly controlled oxygen gradients and compartmentalized redox potential. While therapeutic oxygen delivery can be life-saving, it can disrupt growth and development, impair bioenergetic function, and induce inflammation. Newborns, and premature newborns especially, have features that confer particular susceptibility to hyperoxic injury due to oxidative stress. In this review, we will describe the unique features of newborn redox physiology and antioxidant defenses, the history of therapeutic oxygen use in this population and its role in disease, and clinical trends in the use of therapeutic oxygen and mitigation of neonatal oxidative injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1879
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • Hyperoxia
  • Prematurity
  • Retinopathy of prematurity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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