There is some wonderful news that we would love to share: more and more extremely premature babies are surviving. This brings us a lot of hope.
In fact, almost 67% of babies born between week 24 and 25 survive, and those between week 23 and 24 now have a 27% chance of surviving.
The statistics are positive, especially if we compare them with ones from 15 years ago. And we owe this fact to science and innovative medical and technological advances.
However, as experts explain, the greatest challenge still on everyone’s mind is to reach a point where babies who have been born preterm and who have managed to survive, can grow up without serious health effects.
This is an issue that isn’t always talked about. There is a chance that a child born at 23 weeks will survive, but to hope that they’ll grow up without any developmental problems is always very complicated.
In cases like these, the family needs to have the means, advice, information, social support and adequate health insurance so their child can lead a full, happy and independent life to the extent possible.
The subject of babies being born extremely prematurely is always very complex and delicate.
Behind every child that survives, there is a whole story of overcoming, strong parents, struggling mothers and the incredible children who cling to life with all their strength and inspire us.
Today on YouAreMom we’ll be discussing these individuals.
More preterm births yet more surviving
The Spanish pediatric medical journal “Anales de Pediatría” provides some interesting facts to reflect on. One of them is the fact that the number of premature births has doubled in recent years.
The cause of this isn’t clear at all. It isn’t just because mothers tend to give birth at a later age these days. Factors such as placental anomalies, infections, tobacco use, and poor diet may also be risk factors.
On the other hand, while the rate of preterm births has increased, so has the life expectancy of these premature babies. The technique of using pulmonary surfactants has certainly been an exceptional breakthrough that has contributed to this.
What is a pulmonary surfactant?
This is a medical strategy that assists with the baby’s oxygen intake while their lungs haven’t yet developed. This takes the pressure off of the pulmonary alveoli, preventing collapses and respiratory difficulties.
It has undoubtedly been a breakthrough when it comes to extremely premature births, between the 23rd and 25th weeks, in helping premature babies survive.
Protocol Changes that Improve the Chance of Survival for Babies Born Extremely Prematurely
The protocols in caring for a baby born prematurely have been improving over time.
Providing corticosteroids to expectant mothers, for example, helps babies’ lungs develop a little better before they come into the world.
Also, fewer babies need intubation when they’re born, and there are fewer infections.
All of this undoubtedly contributes to the fact that more and more babies that arrive before their time can begin their life with their parents and have the life they deserve and that their family dreamt of.
Extreme Cases, Miracle Babies
Extremely preterm babies spend an average of 95 days in the hospital.
During that time, their mothers and fathers aren’t living. They are “surviving” as well as they can while dealing with the anxiety and with the two to three hour periods in which the baby’s health can swing from one end of the scale to the other. It’s not easy.
Especially because these families know that every time a premature baby has to be resuscitated, their risk of neurological sequelae increases.
The child may survive, but he or she will most likely suffer from some kind of disability or developmental delay.
We can’t forget that a normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. However, to this day, many hospitals are sometimes faced with babies that are born between 20 and 22 weeks, when science and statistical data tell us that infants under 24 weeks have almost no chance of surviving.
In fact, the limit and the starting point for their survival is usually placed at 25 weeks, although as some specialists explain to us, if the medical treatment center has a lot of experience in the area of perinatal care, the odds that babies under 25 weeks will survive increase.
However the problem lies in what the baby’s quality of life will be afterwards and what potential health issues they may experience.
Let’s hope that in the future, extremely preterm babies can survive without any problems, and be healthy and strong like any other child born to term.