Survival of Extremely Premature Babies Improving

May 9, 2008

The survival of infants born prematurely at 24 and 25 weeks' gestation has improved over the last 12 years, according to an article published May 9 in BMJ Online First.

FRIDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- The survival of infants born prematurely at 24 and 25 weeks' gestation has improved over the last 12 years, according to an article published May 9 in BMJ Online First.

David J. Field, of the University of Leicester in Leicester, U.K., and colleagues examined outcomes of all infants born between 22 weeks and 25 weeks 6 days of gestation to mothers living in a geographically defined U.K. population during two time periods, 1994-1999 and 2000-2005, in order to assess changes in survival over time.

Although a similar proportion of infants died in delivery rooms during the two time periods, survival to hospital discharge was significantly improved in the latter time period, the researchers report. Forty-seven percent of infants admitted to neonatal intensive care units in 2000-2005 survived to discharge, compared with 36 percent in 1994, an improvement that was attributed to greater survival of infants born at 24 and 25 weeks' gestation. Survival of infants born at 23 weeks' gestation did not improve during the two time periods, and no infants born at 22 weeks' gestation survived to discharge during the entire study period, the report indicates.

"Large improvements in the survival to discharge of admitted babies born at 24 and 25 weeks (to 41 percent and 63 percent, respectively) in the most recent time period suggests that a blanket policy of not resuscitating these infants is inappropriate," the authors conclude.

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