“Extremely Premature” Infants See Improving Outcomes

By Dr Deepu

The AP (9/9, Tanner) reports that a 20-year study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that “odds have improved that many extremely premature U.S. infants will survive without major problems.” However, “prospects remain poor for the smallest and youngest, born nearly four months too soon.” For the study, the researchers analyzed hospital records of nearly 35,000 extremely premature babies born between 1993 to 2012 at “26 academic centers participating in a National Institutes of Health research network.” The study included infants “born at 22 weeks to 28 weeks of pregnancy.”
        The Washington Post (9/9, Bernstein) reports that “babies born between 22 and 28 weeks of gestation and who weighed 400 to 1,500 grams (14.1 to 52.9 ounces) have benefited from new practices instituted between 1993 and 2012...said Rosemary Higgins, program scientist for the neonatal research network at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development” and senior author of the study.
        The Huffington Post (9/9) reports that investigators found that between “2009 and 2012, survival rates for preemies born at 23 weeks increased from 27 percent to 33 percent.” Meanwhile, “for babies born at 24 weeks, survival rates jumped from 63 percent to 65 percent, and there were smaller increases for babies born at 25 and 27 weeks respectively.” The article adds that “survival without any major health complications improved by roughly 2 percent per year for babies born between 25 and 28 weeks gestation.”
        According to NPR (9/9) “these improvements are most likely to due to two major interventions: steroid treatment before birth to help preemies’ lungs develop faster, and the willingness of doctors to perform cesareans to deliver extreme preemies.” Challenges remain for smaller preemies born before 25 weeks.

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