A new study reveals that babies born prematurely between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy have better prospects of survival now than they did ten years ago. Moreover, the researchers said that the premature infants born in this era have stronger immune systems and are more likely to avoid health complications after birth. However, the hardship does not end here, as only one in three make it into adulthood, weigh under 2 pounds at birth, and are extremely susceptible to all sorts of affections ranging from mental to physical conditions.
Nevertheless, doctors are positive that the situation will only improve in the future. Such optimism comes after the scientists looked at data collected over a 12-year span of babies born prematurely at different health facilities throughout the country and in different years. Dr. Noelle Younge, Duke University School of Medicine’s neonatologist and assistant professor of pediatrics, also the study’s lead author, says that 2-year-olds who were delivered after only 22 or 24 months of gestation did not display signs of developmental delay.
According to a 2015 survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in ten babies were born prematurely. Health experts say a normal gestation period ranges from 37 to 40 weeks. The team of researchers focused on approximately 2,400 babies born at 22 and 24 weeks for their study. The babies were born at 11 different health facilities between 2000 to 2003, 2004 to 2007, and 2008 to 2011. Throughout the study periods, the infants weighed only 1.3 pounds, on average.
All variables and risk factors considered, the scientists concluded that the premature infants’ survival rate increased from 30 percent in 2000 to 36 percent by the end of the last time period in 2011. Even though no spike was recorded in the survival of babies born the youngest at only 22 weeks, the rates remained constant at 4 percent. Ultimately, the number of premature infants who survived without neurodevelopmental issues past the age of 2 rose from 16 percent in 200 to 20 percent in 2011, the study shows.
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