What if it was your premature baby!

What if it was yours?

It always strikes me as disturbing how fierce arguments over the right time to let unborn babies live and the need to let premature babies die coincide at around 23 or 24 weeks.

Where termination is concerned, a 24-week old baby is considered too far developed to have its life snuffed out. At the same stage a premature baby is, apparently, too expensive to be allowed to live.

The BBC2 documentary 23 Weeks: The Price Of Life examined the arguments for leaving babies born at 23 weeks to pass away without resuscitation or medical intervention.

Behind the arguments effectively to bin life at its early stages is, of course, money.

The price of life is seemingly too high for the liking of some highly-paid NHS officials – like Dr Daphne Austin, for instance.

Doctor Austin, an adviser to local health trusts, says keeping early babies alive is only prolonging their agony.

Funds would be better spent on care for cancer sufferers or the disabled.

This concerning film did much to promote and support Dr Austin’s arguments – a bit of a worry in itself – which were anchored in cash.

She said the NHS was spending around £10m a year resuscitating babies born early and keeping them alive in incubators and on ventilators.

But despite round-the-clock care from teams of experienced doctors and nurses, just nine per cent left hospital – the rest died. And only one in 100 would grow up without some form of disability – the most common including blindness, deafness and cerebral palsy.

One in 100. Is that one baby worth the expense and effort required for a fight for life?

It most definitely is, if it’s your baby.

First published at 08:57, Saturday, 12 March 2011
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
Anne Pickles

Don’t write off premature babies

THE NHS spends £10million a year resuscitating babies born at 23 weeks and keeping them on incubators and ventilators.  But despite 24/7 care, 91 PER CENT of them die. And only one in 100 survivors grows up without disability. The most common problems include blindness, deafness and cerebral palsy.

Leading NHS official Dr Daphne Austin ignited the debate this week when she said in a BBC documentary that keeping the babies alive simply “prolonged” their agony and argued the money would be better spent on cancer sufferers or the disabled.

Guidelines state doctors should not try to resuscitate babies born before 22 weeks as they are too under developed, but those born between 22 and 25 weeks should be given intensive care.

Around 350 babies a year are born at 23 weeks and nearly all are resuscitated as families cling to the hope they will survive.

Here, two mums talk of their 23-week premature babies and why NOT to give up hope.

POLICE officer Lucy Kirwan says her daughter, Matilda, was one of the lucky ones. Lucy, 30, lives in Stourbridge, West Midlands, with her husband Craig, 31, also a police officer, two-year-old son Charlie and Matilda, seven months.

“CHARLIE was born normally. So when I fell pregnant with twin girls last year it didn’t occur to us there would be problems. But at 22 weeks I was told there was a problem with the fluid around the babies.

After a weekend of not feeling very well, I went to Birmingham Women’s Hospital where a scan showed only one heartbeat. The next day, my waters broke.

Craig and I had spent the weekend on the internet working out what would happen if our baby was born at 27 or 28 weeks. We never thought we would have to worry about what would happen if she was born at 23 weeks.

A few days later I went into labour. I was only 23 weeks and six days pregnant.

We’d gone from buying things for the twins and feeling we’d got past the “safe” point of the 20-week scan to losing one baby, Alice Rose, and preparing to give birth to her very premature twin, Matilda. I didn’t have much hope.

Matilda did cry briefly when she was born, then her organs couldn’t cope and the doctors spent half an hour resuscitating her before taking her away. There were about 15 doctors and nurses in the room and alarms were going off.

But I had to give birth to her twin, then I had emergency surgery because the placenta was still attached so I wasn’t very aware of what was happening to Matilda…. continue reading

By Emma Cox
Source: The Sun

Have your say on neonatal services in Wales

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The Health, Well-being and Local Government Committee are beginning an inquiry into neonatal services in Wales.

Of the 33 thousand babies born in Wales each year, four thousand are admitted to Wales’s 13 specialist units.

The Committee will examine whether these units have sufficient funding and staff to cope with the increased demand, which may emerge with increased birth rates.

Chair of the Health, Well-being and Local Government Committee Darren Millar AM said: “The staff in neonatal units are caring for the most fragile and dependent people there are – premature and low birth-weight babies.

“It is essential they have adequate resources and support to cope with increasing demand and these are two of the main questions the Committee will examine in this inquiry.

“Inquiries such as these are always very emotional affairs both for the Committee members and for those giving evidence. But I would urge anyone who has experience of neonatal services in Wales, whether positive or negative, to have their say.”

The Committee will examine the following areas as part of its inquiry:

– Arrangements for monitoring the implementation of the All Wales Neonatal Standards, in line with the British Association of Perinatal Medicine’s staffing standards and the Health Commission Wales review.

– The Welsh Government’s long-term strategy for improving neonatal care and whether it is seen as an integrated part of maternity services.

– Consideration of how the Welsh Government plans to increase the number of neonatal nurses, midwives and neonatal consultants.

– Funding arrangements for the development of round-the-clock access to dedicated neonatal transport services available to all units in Wales.

– Increased support for parents.

– The impact of NHS reforms on neonatal services in Wales.

– Screening for hearing loss.

Anyone wishing to submit evidence to the inquiry can email health.wellbeing.localgovt.comm@wales.gsi.gov.uk or by post to: Clerk, Health, Wellbeing and Local Government Committee, National Assembly for Wales, CF99 1NA.

Source: National Assembly of Wales

Related News: Inquiry into neonatal units

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