Friday, October 17, 2008

Preemie survival rate doubles

Survival of early babies 'doubles'

A study at one of Britain's top neonatal units found that one third of babies born between 22 and 25 weeks' gestation survived in the early 1980s but this had risen to 71 per cent by the late 1990s.

Now, as expected, the biggest improvement was in babies of 24 and 25 weeks gestation. Still:

Of eight babies born alive at 22 weeks at University College London Hospital between 1996 and 2000, four survived to go home. Between 1991 and 1995 only two were born at 22 weeks and neither lived.

For babies born at 23 weeks the survival rate increased from 44 per cent in 1991-95 to 46 per cent in the late 1990s. At 24 weeks, half the babies born between 1991 and 1995 lived. This rose to 81 per cent for those born in 1995-2000.

One third of the babies born at 25 weeks in 1991-95 survived, rising to almost three quarters in 1995-2000.

In the UK, this news has sparked public debate about whether the abortion law shouldn't be changed to prohibit aborting babies that have a chance of survival. In the US, of course, it's not about whether or not the baby could survive. It's about whether or not the adults intend to have him killed.

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