TwentyTwo Matters, a group dedicated to advocating for very premature babies, shared a heartbreaking story this week of a mother whose daughter died after she said the hospital decided the infant was too young to survive.
Thanks to modern medicine, younger and smaller premature babies are surviving outside the womb. Yet, some hospitals still do not provide treatment to babies born before 23 weeks of pregnancy.
Mother Kim Cogburn told TwentyTwo Matters that her daughter was born at 22 weeks of pregnancy, but the hospital refused to try to save her life.
“I lost my baby girl at 22 +6 weeks in 2018 as I went into preterm labor,” Cogburn said. “I was in a level 4 nicu hospital that refused to help my baby. We held her for 2 hours until her heart stopped.”
Kim Cogburn wrote:
“I lost my baby girl at 22 +6 weeks in 2018 as I went into preterm labor. I was in a level 4 nicu hospital that refused to help my baby. We held her for 2 hours until her heart stopped 😪.”#TwentyTwoMatters pic.twitter.com/S768nZXCm6
— TwentyTwoMatters (@22Matters) July 24, 2021
On the group’s Twitter feed, Cogburn’s heart-wrenching story is juxtaposed with numerous other stories of premature babies who survived and now are thriving despite being born at the same stage of pregnancy.
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Fayth, for example, was born at just 21 weeks and five days of pregnancy, but now she is a thriving 8-year-old.
Meet Fayth 💓
Born at 21 weeks 5 days, she weighed 576 grams. Her mama proclaims her as “a whole personality all on her own.” Fayth turned 8 in June & her mom reports you would never know she was a micropreemie.
Fayth’s guardian angel is her twin sister, Cerenity (last photo) pic.twitter.com/aSh5e0HdeW
— TwentyTwoMatters (@22Matters) July 23, 2021
Twenty Two Matters also keeps a running list of hospitals confirmed to have saved babies born at 21 weeks and 22 weeks of pregnancy.
Viability is a moving line. In the 1970s, babies were considered to be viable at about 28 weeks of pregnancy, but as medicine advanced, the line moved back to 24 weeks and now is about 22 weeks.
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a growing number of premature infants are surviving at 22 weeks of pregnancy. However, the study also found that many hospitals do not try to save babies born at such an early stage.
Fortunately, this research and advocacy from groups like TwentyTwo Matters are prompting change. In 2019, the British Association of Medicine issued new guidelines encouraging medical treatment for babies born at 22 weeks of pregnancy. Previously, the guidelines did not recommend treatment until 24 weeks.
In June, the Guinness Book of World Records declared Richard Scott William Hutchinson, of Wisconsin, the most premature baby ever to survive, CNN reports. In 2020, he was born at 21 weeks gestation – 131 days before his due date – weighing 11.9 ounces, WCCO Minneapolis reports.
In 2017, the journal Pediatrics highlighted the story of another girl who survived after being born at 21 weeks and four days of pregnancy.\