New Promise for Premature Infants
Premature delivery is one of the most important causes of serious illness among newborn infants. Recent reductions in infant mortality rates have occurred primarily through more effective treatment of prematurely born infants.
Even for the most premature infants, the outlook is improving. In fact, in February 2006, the youngest ever premature infant went home after a four-month stay in the Miami Baptist Children's Hospital neonatal care unit. Amillia Sonja Taylor, born October 24, 2006, was just nine and one-half inches long and less than 10 ounces at her birth. She was born after an amazingly short 21 weeks, six days in the womb.
"It may be that we need to reconsider our standard for viability in light of Amillia's case," reports Dr. William Smalling, MD, neonatologist at Baptist Children's Hospital. "Over the years, the technology that we have available to save these premature babies has improved dramatically. Today, we can save babies that would have never survived 10 years ago," he adds.
Additionally, a new study done at the University of Florida and published in the January 2006 issue of Pediatrics found that extremely premature baby girls were 1.7 times more likely to survive than baby boys. And African-American baby girls were 2.1 times as likely to survive as white boys.
This new study also reports some promising statistics on survival rates for premature babies.
|Premature Babies' Survival Rates*|
Gestational Age (Weeks)
"Racial and Gender Differences in the Viability of Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants: A Population-Based Study," Pediatrics, Jan. 2006, volume 117, number 1.
Premature delivery is a common contributor to infant mortality and a reason for admission to the NICU. Fortunately, even for very premature children, the outcome is often positive and continues to improve. The best treatment of prematurity is prevention. You can reduce your risk of premature delivery by keeping all prenatal appointments, avoiding tobacco and recreational drugs, and promptly reporting any danger signs that might indicate premature labor or other complications.