The majority of premature babies grow up to be healthy adults

The majority of premature babies grow up to be healthy adults without any major health problems, a new study suggests.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, followed 2.56 million babies born in Sweden between 1973 and 1997, around six percent of whom were born prematurely.

Researchers compared the health data of the premature babies to those that had been born at full-term. They found that 55% of premature babies had no serious chronic, physical, or mental health issues by early adulthood. This is compared to 63% for babies born at full-term.

Additionally, with each passing decade, the odds of survival for a premature baby to adulthood improved from about 91% of babies born in the 1970s to about 96% of those born in the 1990s.

Dr Casey Crump, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City told Reuters: “Our findings reflect the apparent resilience of preterm birth survivors in maintaining good health. Despite increased risks of several chronic disorders, the majority can still have good overall health in adulthood”.

However, the study also found the earlier babies are born the harder it becomes to avoid complications.

Just 22% of extremely premature babies – those born between 22 to 27 weeks gestation – were alive without any health problems by the end of the study.

This compares with 49% of very premature babies – born between 28 to 33 weeks – and 58% of late premature babies – born at 34 to 36 weeks.

These outcomes were similar for men and women.

The study comes as the survival rate for extremely premature babies has doubled over the past decade, prompting new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

In 2008 only two out of ten babies born alive at 23 weeks went on to survive. Today it is four out of ten, according to a new analysis from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine.

The findings of both studies have prompted calls to review the current law in order to help lower abortion numbers and save the lives of babies capable of being born alive.

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said:

“These studies add further evidence to the need for Parliament to urgently review our current abortion time limit. We support any change in law that would help lower abortion numbers and save the lives of babies in the womb. 

“It’s time that our laws were brought into line with public opinion, modern science and the majority of Europe.

“We urge everyone to ask their MP candidates to sign our Both Lives Pledge and commit to lowering the gestational time limit for abortion, something that is well-supported by women.

“Independent polling from ComRes shows that 70% of women in the UK want to see the time limit for abortion reduced to 20 weeks or below.”

About 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK each year, of which 3,148 are considered “extremely premature” — born before 27 weeks.

Twins given 1% chance of survival now living at home

The parents of premature twins given just a 1% chance of survival have spoken of their joy at being able to bring them home.

Ashley and Joe Keates each weighed less than 1lb (403g and 429g) when they were born at just 23 weeks on 16 April. They are believed to be the smallest to survive in the UK.

Their mother Talia Keates told The Sun when signs of problems with the pregnancy arose at 17 weeks she was told to consider abortion and then when her waters broke at 20 weeks she was told they had little chance of survival.

But, after more than four months in intensive care, the brave little brothers are now at home with their parents and four other siblings.

Joe was born naturally, while Ashley was born by caesarean section afterwards as the twins had separate amniotic sacs.

Talia said, “Ashley and Joe are my bouncing little miracles. I feel extremely lucky and very grateful. I guess they are one in a million”.

“They were tiny, they were probably the length of your hand and their skin was almost transparent and their eyes were still fused together.

“It just goes to show what incredible fighters they are.”

Both boys, now seven months old, remain on oxygen 24 hours a day to help as their lungs develop but show bright signs for the future.

Talia, who is a nurse, has thanked teams at Bristol Southmead Hospital and the Royal United Hospital in Bath, proclaiming they had been amazing. 

She added: “I want my story to give hope to others who find themselves in a similar situation.” 

The father of the boys, Oliver, added: “We’ve been so blessed, they are our little miracle babies that complete our family.”

Earlier this year, it was revealed that the survival rate for extremely premature babies has doubled over the past decade, prompting new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

However, it is currently legal in Great Britain to abort unborn babies up to 24 weeks, or up to birth if doctors believe the baby will be born with a disability.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“It has been over a decade since abortion time limits were last debated fully in Parliament, in 2008. Since then the survival rate for premature babies has doubled. Our current abortion time limit, at 24 weeks, is way out of line with medical breakthroughs and the rest of Europe where the most common abortion time limit is 12 weeks, making time limits an issue Parliament should urgently revisit.”

(Image credit: Adobe Stock: File #81241952)

Mother whose son was given 12% chance to live welcomes guidance to save premature babies

A pregnant mother who begged doctors to forget about her and save her baby after both almost died has welcomed new guidance that encourages doctors to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

After swelling up severely, Stacie Hylans was admitted to hospital where doctors diagnosed her with pre-eclampsia and told her she had no choice but to deliver the baby early.

It meant she had to give birth to her son Alex Grief at just 24 weeks, with the young mother pleading with medics to save her baby.

Stacie told Derbyshire Live: “I was in shock and absolutely terrified. There was a chance I could die and there was a chance Alex wouldn’t survive.

“I remember vividly my mum signing forms in case the worse happened; it was horrible.

“I kept telling everyone please save the baby, don’t worry about me.”

Alexander Grief weighed little more than a pound when he was born and was given a 12% chance of survival.

But the strong youngster began to recover with the help of doctors and was allowed to go home after 20 weeks.

Despite his difficult start to life, Alex is now enjoying secondary school and the only signs of his premature birth are visual impairment and some learning difficulties.

Now Stacie, who spent the next few days in a high dependency unit, has welcomed news that babies will now be resuscitated at 22 weeks thanks to advances in medicine.

Stacie, who is also mum to Ellis, 12, Oscar, eight, and Mickey, seven months, said: “Any baby born breathing should be given a chance.

“My son was only saved because he was 24-weeks gestation, had he have been born a day or two before, they wouldn’t have had a legal right to have tried.

“But with this news, does it mean the abortion limit will be lowered? As this proves that a baby can survive at the limit of which a person can abort.

“I’m delighted they have passed this. So many more babies will be saved and given a chance.”

The survival rate for extremely premature babies has doubled over the past decade, prompting new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

In 2008 only two out of ten babies born alive at 23 weeks went on to survive. Today, four out of 10 babies born at 23 weeks and receiving treatment in UK neonatal units are expected to survive.

When the guidance was released, Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said:

“This is something that Parliament should urgently revisit. It has been over a decade since time limits were last debated fully in Parliament, in 2008.

There is a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive before 24 weeks whilst in another room a doctor could perform an abortion which would end the life of a baby at the same age. Surely this contradiction needs to end?

Independent polling from ComRes shows that 70% of women in the UK want to see the time limit for abortion reduced to 20 weeks or below. Our current abortion time limit is way out of line with the rest of Europe where the most common abortion time limit is 12 weeks.

This change in guidance adds further evidence to the need for Parliament to urgently review our current abortion time limit. We support any change in law that would help lower abortion numbers and save the lives of babies in the womb.

It’s time that our laws were brought into line with public opinion, modern science and the rest of Europe.”

About 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK each year, of which 3,148 are considered “extremely premature” — born before 27 weeks.

Increased survival rate for premature babies born prompts calls to review current law

The survival rate for extremely premature babies has doubled over the past decade, prompting new guidance allowing doctors to try to save babies born as early as 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

The previous clinical guidance, drafted in 2008, included a presumption against attempting to provide life-saving treatment to a baby born before 23 weeks, on the basis it would not be in the child’s best interests.

However, there is now new evidence that those born at this age have a good chance of survival.

In 2008 only two out of ten babies born alive at 23 weeks went on to survive. Today it is four out of ten, according to a new analysis from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine (BAPM).

Once you get to over 22 weeks, the chances of survival increase week-by-week due to technical advances, better planning so pregnant mothers who go into preterm labour go straight to specialist units and the increased use of steroids.

In 2016, 38% of babies born at 23 weeks go on to survive – double the rate 10 years previously. Once a baby gets to 26 weeks, treatment is proceeded on in most cases and 82% survive.

The new guidance states that, after consulting the family, doctors should try to save the child if they judge it is in their best interest.

The findings have prompted calls to review the current law in order to help lower abortion numbers and save the lives of babies.

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said:

“This is something that Parliament should urgently revisit. It has been over a decade since time limits were last debated fully in Parliament, in 2008. 

There is a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive before 24 weeks whilst in another room a doctor could perform an abortion which would end the life of a baby at the same age. Surely this contradiction needs to end?

Independent polling from ComRes shows that 70% of women in the UK want to see the time limit for abortion reduced to 20 weeks or below. Our current abortion time limit is way out of line with the rest of Europe where the most common abortion time limit is 12 weeks.

This change in guidance adds further evidence to the need for Parliament to urgently review our current abortion time limit. We support any change in law that would help lower abortion numbers and save the lives of babies in the womb. 

It’s time that our laws were brought into line with public opinion, modern science and the rest of Europe.”

About 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK each year, of which 3,148 are considered “extremely premature” — born before 27 weeks.

(Image credit: Adobe Stock: File #106055878)