Q&A: What is the survival rate for a preemie at 24 weeks?
My wife has been having preterm labor and is now in the hospital receiving medication to prolong the pregnancy. She is 24 weeks pregnant. How far would she have to get in order for us to have a baby that is likely to survive?
I am sorry to hear that you and your wife are going through this. There are so many unknowns in pregnancy, and preterm labor just amplifies those stresses. The outcome of preterm birth depends on several factors. Since your wife is in the hospital already, I am guessing that she has probably received treatment with corticosteroids to accelerate maturation of the baby’s lungs. You can only get steroids when there is warning of preterm birth, and the baby doesn’t come too quickly. So that is a good thing. Another factor that determines outcome is where the baby is born. Newborn intensive care units (NICU) vary in their results, and for a baby as early as 24 weeks, you want the most skilled and experienced team.
At 24 weeks, survival is about 50 percent; by 28 weeks it is up to over 80 percent. Many (but by no means all) of these very small survivors have long-term neurological issues. As time passes, the likelihood of a good outcome for your baby will improve rapidly. On average, girls do slightly better than boys. By 32 weeks, survival is almost as good as full term, although many babies still spend a month or so in the NICU.
Preterm labor can be a long and rocky road. Sometimes it turns out to be a false alarm and the pregnancy goes to term. Other times you hold your breath hour by hour and day by day. I have heard that each day the baby stays in mom can mean two days not spent in the NICU, so it sounds like the OB team and your wife are all doing their part to try to get further along. I wish you all the best.