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Premature baby born weighing less than a can of coke

Tiny baby Sky was born 17 weeks early at 23 weeks gestation, weighing only 350g, which is less than a can of coke. The little girl, from Bracknell, Berkshire, is now at home and her parents have shared the story of her journey from birth to home. 

Doctors warn mum of a premature birth

Sky’s mum, Jessy, was pregnant with twins when she was told by doctors at 20 weeks that she would need to have a premature delivery because the babies were not growing properly. She was warned that this would likely be as early as 25 weeks, 15 weeks before the babies were due. 

However, Jessy went into spontaneous labour at 23 weeks and gave birth to her twins at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Sky weighed only 350g when she was born. Her brother was nearly double her weight at 660g, but he tragically died when he was a day old.  

One of the smallest babies in the UK to survive

Sky was transferred to the specialist neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. She remained there for four and a half months allowing her to leave hospital around the time that she should have been born. 

Dr Amit Gupta, Clinical Lead, Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Oxford University Hospitals (OUH), said “Babies born at 23 weeks are extremely vulnerable and the majority are unable to survive”.

“Sky was not only born extremely preterm, but was also the tiniest baby we have looked after. It was a privilege to be part of Sky’s miraculous journey and her progress is testament to the skill and care of our staff”.

Sky suffered from multiple infections, a collapsed lung, premature bowels, and blood pressure problems. Doctors needed her to be stable and reach an ideal weight before she could be allowed home. 

Keeping positive and celebrating milestones

Spending lots of time at the NICU, Chris, Sky’s father, began to design cards to mark the significant milestones that his daughter was achieving. He marked the first cuddle she had; the day she weighed 400g; the time that they found a hat small enough for their little girl.

For most babies, these would not be milestones but for such a premature baby, these moments marked enormous progress. Chris said that he started making these cards to keep his mind in “a good space” and remain positive amidst the difficulties of losing one baby and waiting to see if the other would make it. 

Survival of babies born before 24 weeks gestation

Last year, Professor and medical doctor John Wyatt, Professor of Ethics and Perinatology at University College London and also Emeritus Professor of Neonatal Paediatrics, Ethics & Perinatology at University College London, showed evidence from the UK and across the world “that there has been a steady improvement in the chances of survival of babies born at 22 and 23 weeks gestation since the Abortion Act was last amended [in 1990]”.

The abortion limit was reduced to 24 weeks in 1990, which, at the time, was considered the point at which a baby could survive outside the womb. Now, however, Professor Wyatt argued, medical techniques and technology have improved, and “the current abortion time limit of 24 weeks is not consistent with survival figures for babies born at 22 and 23 weeks gestation, and with current clinical neonatal and paediatric practice”.

Professor Wyatt cited, in particular, data from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine’s 2019 Code of Practice, which indicated an approximate 30% survival rate in babies born at 22 weeks.

Challenge raised by her gestational age

Sky is one of the smallest babies ever to survive in the UK. Born at 23 weeks, she is also remarkable in that she was born before the UK abortion time limit

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “The fact that Sky was born and has survived at a time when she could also have had her life ended by abortion poses a fierce challenge to the UK abortion law”. 

“It is monstrous that the disparity exists in which a child can be born and survive at 23 weeks gestation and, at the same time, this child could also legally have its life ended through abortion. The UK abortion law needs to change urgently in the light of such abhorrent practices”.

“Sky’s wonderful recovery is a sign of great hope for others whose babies are born prematurely and is a strong reminder of the humanity of the unborn child at 23 weeks gestational age”.

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.