Extremely premature babies’ survival rate improving

The Newcastle hospital which successfully delivered Britain’s first 24-week baby is seeing survival rates for premature babies boom.

Doctors at the Royal Victoria Infirmary’s (RVI) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit have seen survival rates for 23 weeks’ gestation almost triple from 25 per cent in 2006 to between 60 and 70 per cent now, according to The Newcastle Chronicle.

For babies born at 24 weeks, the survival rate at the RVI is as high as 80 per cent.

Bag of sugar

The newspaper also detailed some of the region’s success stories over the past 21 years.

Sophie Proud was the first baby born at 24 weeks in Britain to survive. At just one kilogram, she weighed as much as a bag of sugar.

Sophie endured open heart surgery, an operation on her eyes, ten bouts of pneumonia, collapsed lungs, and blood poisoning, but made a stunning recovery.

Now 21, she works in neonatal care at a hospital in Middlesbrough. She has previously worked for Tiny Lives, a charity which raises awareness of premature birth and funds specialist equipment, training and research.

‘Ordinary young lads’

Twins Kyle and Jake French were born at 23 weeks. Weighing less then 1lb 8oz each, their parents were told to expect the worst.

The boys spent 18 weeks in hospital, during which they had operations to close a duct in their hearts. Jack also needed stomach surgery.

Now three years old, they were described by the local newspaper as “ordinary young lads, who enjoy playing with each other and their friends at nursery”.

Defying expectations

Tyler Short was born at 24 weeks and was given only a five per cent chance of survival.

Born with cerebral palsy, his parents were told he would never walk or talk, but five years later, he walks around the house and his mother Ashleigh says she now ‘can’t shut him up’.

Ewan Leighton, also born at 24 weeks, was given a 50 per cent chance of survival back in 2010.

The 1lb 5oz pound baby was placed on a ventilator for 7 weeks, and also battled through numerous infections, a brain haemorrhage and chronic lung disease.

Abortion on demand

In Britain, abortions generally can take place up to 24 weeks, but disabled children can be aborted up to birth.

While recent opinion polls have shown support for lowering the abortion limit, some campaigners are pushing for complete decriminalisation.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, alongside the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, are campaigning for a change in the law which would result in abortion on demand up to birth.

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