Many women, because of different reasons, experience the early delivery of babies. Some of them, anxious after a past pregnancy loss, relief after their pregnancy reaches the point at which the baby would be able to survive if born early.
According to the experts, when the date of the delivery is complicated, many factors affect premature infant survival and the possibility of disabilities or impairments after birth.
Premature Birth and Survival Statistics
One of the factors that are defined by the doctors is the age of viability, which is about 24 weeks of gestation, after which they will use intensive medical intervention to attempt to save the life of a baby.
Babies born at 23 weeks may survive in a state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), but the odds of survival are much lower.
The Quint Boenker Preemie Survival Foundation7 and the March of Dimes announced the likelihood of survival for a baby born prematurely:
- 34+ weeks – as likely as a full-term baby
- 32 to 33 weeks: 95%
- 28 to 31 weeks: 90 to 95%
- 27 weeks: 90%
- 26 weeks: 80%
- 25 weeks: 50%
- 24 weeks: 39%
- 23 weeks: 17%
The statistics show that the earliest preemie to survive was born at 21 weeks in 2017, while the smallest preemie was just 8.6 ounces when she was born at 23 weeks gestation.
Another factor is low birth weight, which is independently linked to reduced odds of survival and a higher risk of disabilities and health problems.
Also, if the baby is treated with steroids his/her lungs will be more developed before birth, because when the mother gets the steroids, they will pass through the placenta to the fetus.
Finally, the girls are more likely to survive very early premature birth. It was the case with the baby Gloria, who was born on Leap Day, Feb. 29, in 26 weeks of pregnancy of her mother, who had an emergency C-section. Gloria weighed a mere 2 pounds and went immediately to the NICU at South Texas Health System’s McAllen Medical Center.
She spent there next 80 days and to celebrate the day she finally got to go home, she was dressed by her mom Alana Patten, who sewed her a graduation cap and gown and put a little pearl necklace on her. All the personnel who took care of Gloria celebrated her leaving the medical center.
Because of the COVID-19, Gloria’s stay in the NICU was more complicated due to extra precautions taken at hospitals to prevent its spread. Even the Pattens could only see her one at a time, especially because her father, Jon, is a home healthcare worker and was more exposed to COVID-19 on the job, so he saw her less. He only held her for the first time when she returned home on May 19.
Alana was allowed to visit Gloria almost daily, but all the restrictions, which have been for her safety, were very difficult for her too.
Gloria’s “graduating” was recorded on a video clip posted by an editor at the National Catholic Register and can be seen here:
Gloria, who received a graduation certificate from the hospital, went home with an oxygen tank as a precaution, even she was breathing on her own and weighed 6 pounds when she was released. The expectation of the doctors s that she will grow at a normal pace, but they will be monitoring her as she gets older.
Risk of Disabilities
Babies born very prematurely can face high odds of having some disabilities, especially learning or other developmental impairment. It depends on many factors, including the need for and types of treatment received in the immediate neonatal period.