Because premature babies are born before their expected due date, they are often at risk of having health problems. But due to advancements in medicine, experts from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine (BAPM) found that premature babies born at 22 weeks have better chances of survival than before.
Extremely preterm babies, those who are born at 25 weeks or before, may have organs that are not yet fully developed, but with active assistance and treatment-intubation, ventilation and substance to support the lungs, a quarter of those born at this stage of pregnancy survived, according to the BAPM.
Previously, British guidelines recommend that only babies born at 23 weeks or later should be given treatment to save their lives. But with this key information, those guidelines may soon change.
“We’ve got better at keeping extremely premature babies alive and we know clinicians are increasingly willing to consider survival-focused care for the most extremely premature babies,” said Dr. Helen Mactier, President of the BAPM to The Telegraph.
According to Prof. Dominic Wilkinson, a consultant neonatologist and one of those who helped draw up the guidance said that it is fantastic news. However, giving medical treatment to premature infants is not always the “the right thing to do.”
“The very high risks mean that it is not always the right thing to do to provide intensive medical treatment,” he said.
In August 2018, Ruben and Jenson Powell were born at 22 weeks and six days and have become the youngest surviving pre-term twin boys in the United Kingdom. The two brave twins had endured some illnesses — Jenson suffered weakness in his lungs while Ruben’s intestines failed and he had to undergo a lifesaving operation. They both had to have 20 blood transfusions, eye injections and laser surgery to prevent blindness. But in the end, both boys pulled through.
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However, BAPM still advises that babies born before 22 weeks have no chance of survival rate because their lungs are still underdeveloped.
The World Health Organization says that there are many procedures and treatments which can be done to improve preemies’ survival rate after delivery. These include basic care for infections and breathing difficulties, breastfeeding support, and provision of warmth.
An article in the Philippine News Agency said that most of the leading tertiary hospitals in the country are already well-equipped with the technology and skilled professionals capable of delivering and caring for preemies—including those who are born extremely preterm.