New Research Shows Survival Rates of Premature Babies Born at 22 Weeks are Improving

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Oct 24, 2019   |   10:28PM   |   London, England

Amazing new research shows that premature babies are surviving earlier and earlier outside the womb.

Recently, the British Association of Medicine issued new guidelines encouraging medical treatment for babies born at just 22 weeks of pregnancy, the BBC reports.

The association pointed to research showing increasing survival rates for 22-week micro-preemies. About one third of premature babies born at the early stage now are surviving if they receive treatment, according to the report.

Two of these miracle babies are Ruben and Jenson Powell, considered to be the earliest surviving twins in England. They were born at 22 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy in August 2018, and now are doing well at home with their family, according to the report.

“It really is a story of hope and miracles,” their mother, Jennie Powell, said. “They defied every set of odds that they were given.”

Similarly, research published in 2015 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 23 percent of premature infants are surviving as early as 22 weeks of pregnancy. However, the study also found that some hospitals do not treat babies at this early age.

The updated guidelines are especially important in England because some families have said their babies were denied potentially life-saving treatment because they were born outside the guidelines. In 2017, LifeNews reported on the heartbreaking story of Camille Magill whose son was born at 23 weeks of pregnancy. Magill said they heard her son gasp and saw his heart beating, but the doctors refused to treat him. He died a short time afterward.

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Here’s more from the BBC:

Prof Dominic Wilkinson, a consultant neonatologist who helped draw up the guidance, said since the previous guidance was published, advances in treatment meant doctors were trying to save the lives of some babies born at 22 weeks.

He said evidence from those cases had convinced BAPM to update its guidance.

He said it was “fantastic news” that some babies born at such an early stage were now surviving.

Their research found that premature babies’ survival rates have increased significantly in the past decade. For example, 38 percent of babies born at 23 weeks survived with treatment in 2016, twice the rate from a decade ago, the report states. By 26 weeks, about 82 percent of premature babies now survive, the report continues.

The earliest known premature baby to survive outside the womb was born at 21 weeks and four days of pregnancy. In 2017, the journal Pediatrics highlighted the girl’s survival story.

The smallest recorded surviving baby weighed less than 9 ounces at birth. Born in California in December 2018, baby Saybie was deemed well enough to go home in May.

The new research also adds weight to the pro-life argument that viability is not a good factor in determining whether unborn babies should be protected. Not only has the line of viability moved with modern medical advances, but a baby’s viability also depends on whether his/her mother has access to modern medicine. These factors indicate that viability does not determine value. Every baby’s life, from the moment it begins, deserves to be protected and valued.