Premature babies battle for survival at ‘edge of life’

The NHS spends more than £10m a year on babies born at 23 weeks

Babies born prematurely in the 23rd week of pregnancy exist on the very edge of life. A few go on to become “miracle babies”, but most die. The figures are stark, only nine out of 100 will survive, and of that number most are disabled. Is it always right to keep them alive?

“I can’t really get my head round how they’ve managed to keep her alive.”

Lucy’s daughter Matilda was born four months early at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, weighing one pound one ounce.

Within 20 seconds of her birth, her tiny body was placed into a plastic bag to prevent her losing too much heat or moisture.

She was carefully transferred into an incubator and hooked up to tubes and gadgets. Cutting-edge technology has been keeping her alive for four weeks.

Had Matilda been born one week earlier at 22 weeks – she would usually have been considered a miscarriage.

One week later at 24 weeks, her chances of survival would be much higher.

Thanks to decades of improving medical science 23 weeks is now considered the “edge of viability”. It is one week less than the limit for abortion at 24 weeks. .. continue reading

By Adam Wishart

Documentary Maker, 23 Week Babies: The Price of Life

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