Good news for preemies: Survival rates up over decade

Good news for preemies: Survival rates up over decade

Premature births are stressful for parents and babies. The infant may not breathe on their own. They may experience any number of health problems as they grow.

But there is good news: A University of Rochester Medical Center researcher has found that survival rates for extremely pre-term babies have increased significantly.

The study investigated survival outcomes of nearly 11,000 infants born at 22 to 28 weeks at 19 academic medical centers from 2013 to 2018.

Human pregnancy ordinarily lasts roughly 40 weeks. Babies born earlier than that can and do survive, but not always.

The study found that infants born at 22 weeks and 23 weeks ¾ considered “extremely pre-term” pregnancies ¾ had survival rates of 30% and almost 56%, respectively.

Those numbers are much higher than those from an earlier study, which looked at premature births from 2008 until 2012.

Back then, babies born at 22 and 23 weeks had survival rates of 7% and 32%, respectively.

The researchers said better handling of ventilation, nutrition and hydration were behind the heartening findings.

The study also looked at the health of severely pre-term infants after two years.

In those cases, slightly more than 8% of the infants had moderate to severe celebral palsy, 1.5% had vision loss, 2.5% needed hearing aids or cochlear implants and 15% needed mobility aids, such as walkers or wheelchairs.

Nearly 49% had mild or no neurodevelopmental impairment, and 29% had moderate impairment. About 21% had severe impairment.

For doctors whose job often means delivering frightening news, the findings are a welcome bit of optimism to share with parents who need it.


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