Survival Rate Improves for Extremely Premature Infants

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 13, 2017 | Go to article overview

Survival Rate Improves for Extremely Premature Infants


Byline: Jia Naqvi The Washington Post

Survival rates for very early preterm infants have improved slightly, according to a study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Those who survive are also somewhat less likely to suffer from neurodevelopmental impairments, the study found.

Researchers gathered survival and neurodevelopmental impairment data for 4,000 extremely premature infants by analyzing records from a National Institutes of Health research network. The infants were born between 22 and 24 weeks of gestation, rather than after a normal 40-week pregnancy.

Survival rates of such infants born between 2000 and 2011 rose from 30 to 36 percent. The percentage of preterm infants who did not develop neurological impairments increased from 16 to 20 percent.

"The survival rates are increasing over time, and the rates of impairment did not go up with that increase, which is very reassuring," said study author Rosemary Higgins, a program scientist at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Better health care for expectant mothers and newborns may be contributing to higher survival rates and a lower percentage of infants with neurodevelopmental impairments, according to the authors of the study.

Wider use of steroids for women who are at risk of preterm birth may be a contributing factor as well, Higgins said. The drugs help lungs develop so the infants do not require ventilation therapy after birth, which sometimes damages the lungs and causes infections. Steroids also reduce the likelihood of other long-term complications, Higgins said.

The study also found that fewer premature infants had sepsis, which could also contribute to the decrease in neurodevelopmental impairments. …

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