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Baby girl born weighing just 510g at 22 weeks, now thriving at five years old

A Singaporean girl born at just 22 weeks and the youngest known premmie in the country in the past decade is now a healthy and thriving five year old.

Baby Chelsea Kiew was born so early and unexpectedly that her father, Raymond, had to be guided by emergency medical staff over the phone before Chelsea and her mother Lin Hsiao Chi were taken to hospital in May 2018. She weighed just 510g at birth and required 100% oxygen and maximum ventilator support in order to breathe.

Her mother said “I was petrified. But when I heard her crying, at least I knew she was alive”.

Dr Tan Pih Lin, a senior consultant at the department of neonatology at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, reported that her chance of survival was close to zero at birth. But her parents didn’t give up hope.

Chelsea’s father said “We visited her every day, told her stories and encouraged her to believe in herself and explore the world. We believe such support is crucial for premature babies”.

Chelsea was active at birth with a good heart rate despite being born so prematurely

Baby Chelsea had to spend 166 days in hospital receiving a variety of life-saving treatments, and even after she was discharged, she required respiratory support for a further nine months due to her chronic lung disease. However, she recovered and grew out of this condition. 

Chelsea now has no health or medical conditions related to her prematurity, other than a small hole in her heart.

Her father said “We don’t see any impact from the hole in her heart. She can still run about, take part in all activities, depending on her mood”.

A 2008 study based on a neonatal intensive care unit in London found that neonatal survival rates at 22 and 23 weeks gestation had improved. In 1981-85, no babies who were born at these gestational ages survived to discharge. However, by 1986-90, 19% did and this increased to 54% in the period 1996-2000.

A study in 2022 found almost four out of five babies born prematurely between 22 and 28 weeks gestation survive to discharge from the hospital. It found that from 2013 to 2018, with infants born between 22 and 28 weeks gestation, “survival to discharge occurred in 78.3% and was significantly improved compared with a historical rate of 76.0% among infants born in 2008-2012”.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “Chelsea’s amazing journey from her very premature birth and medical challenges to now living with no major health issues speaks to her resilience. The improved survival rate for extremely premature babies is a constant reminder of just how backward our abortion laws are”.

Dear reader,

You may be surprised to learn that our 24-week abortion time limit is out of line with the majority of European Union countries, where the most common time limit for abortion on demand or on broad social grounds is 12 weeks gestation.

The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks. The latest research indicates that a significant number of babies born at 22 weeks gestation can survive outside the womb, and this number increases with proactive perinatal care.

This leaves a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive at 23 weeks whilst, in another room of that same hospital, a doctor could perform an abortion that would end the life of a baby at the same age.

The majority of the British population support reducing the time limit. Polling has shown that 70% of British women favour a reduction in the time limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or below.

Please click the button below to sign the petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to do everything in his power to reduce the abortion time limit.