Stockholm, Sweden (LifeNews.com) -- Researchers in Sweden have published a new study showing survival chances have greatly improved for premature babies. The news comes at a time when the United States is grappling with the murder of an abortion practitioner who ended the lives of these babies in late-term abortions.
Dr. Karel Marsal of Lund University Hospital and colleagues published their findings in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
They found that approximately 70 percent of the babies born alive between 22 and 26 weeks gestation in Sweden now survive past the age of one thanks to advances in modern medicine.
On the down side, the authors say more must be done because half of the babies who survived experienced serious health problems.
The researchers examined the birth of all infants born before 27 weeks gestation in Sweden from 2004-2007 and found the overall perinatal mortality or death rate was 45%. That means 55 percent of the 1,011 babies survived who were born at or before that stage of pregnancy.
Of those 55 percent of babies who survived, 70 percent were still alive at the end of one year which is a higher figure than in previous studies.
The study confirmed earlier research showing survival rates increase as the pregnancy moves further along.
It found 10 percent of babies born at 22 weeks survived to one year compared with 53% of those born at 23 weeks and 85% of those born at 26 weeks into the pregnancy. The later the birth in pregnancy the more likely the baby survived without any major illness and half of those born at 26 weeks had no serious health issues.
The study also found babies born at hospitals with the best intensive care facilities had the highest survival odds.
"Certainly, at 22 weeks the chance of surviving is very small, but at 23 weeks the results are much better," Marsal said in the study. "But gestational age alone is not enough to judge prognosis."
The survival of premature babies is an important research topic if only because the rate of premature births has increased over the years.
Some of the increase has been brought on because of abortion.
Last year, Canadian researcher Brent Rooney and colleagues published a report in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons showing African-American women are at risk for higher rates of premature and extremely premature birth because they tend to have abortions at higher rates than women of other ethnicity.
According to the new research paper, black women are three times more likely to have an early pre-term birth before 32 weeks gestation and four times more likely to have an extremely pre-term birth before 28 weeks gestation in comparison with women of other ethnic groups.
While black women represent 12.5% of American females they have 38.2% of all abortions, according to the authors.
In July 2006, a report from a committee of the National Academies of Science finds that a first-trimester abortion, the most common abortion procedure, is linked to an increasing risk of premature birth.
In the report is a list of "immutable medical risk factors associated with preterm birth" and "prior first-trimester abortion" is listed third among other risk factors that increase the risk of having a subsequent premature birth.
The IOM reported that premature births before 37 weeks gestation represent 12.5 percent of all U.S. births, a 30% increase since 1981. Abortion became legally accessible in 1973 and the number of abortions peaked in the early 1980s.
By Patrick B. Craine
PITTSBURGH, June 3, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On March 12, parents Brittany Rideout and Adam Bouchat welcomed their beautiful and extraordinarily tiny little girl, Taylor Rideout, at Magee-Women’s Hospital of UPMC in Pittsburgh. Born at 26 weeks gestation, Taylor was a mere 12.5 ounces or 350 grams, about the size of a pop can.
Ms. Rideout suffers from lupus, and about six weeks into the pregnancy she underwent two strokes and two seizures, says Mr. Bouchat in a video on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s website. She was hospitalized for a month. Then, two months after she was released, she was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome. “Her blood pressure was sky-high and her liver was failing,” said Mr. Bouchat.
Faced with the possibility of death for both mother and child, they chose to deliver baby Taylor at 26 weeks. According to Taylor’s doctor, Dr. Jennifer Kloesz, the smallest babies they had delivered before Taylor were about 500 grams, but these babies were only 24 weeks gestation. Dr. Kloesz said that Taylor was about half the size of a normal 26-week baby.
“The reason that she’s still here and is going to survive and be discharged is that she was 26 weeks,” Dr. Kloesz said. “Her organ systems had developed more like a 26-weeker so that she was able to respond to our resuscitation.”
Dr. Kloesz said that if Taylor had not been gestated so long, they might not have made the attempt. Referring to her being 26 weeks, she said, “That’s kinda the main thing that makes her so different and why it was worth giving it a try, with her parents’ wishes,” continues Dr. Kloesz.
But Ms. Rideout urges parents facing similar difficulties never to give up, reports WXPI in Pittsburgh. “I would tell them,” she said, “don't give up on their child if they're born small or have a disease or anything. There's a God in this world, and if it's meant to be, it will be.”
Taylor is now 83 days old, and weighs 3 pounds. She has been transferred into a transitional unit for a couple weeks in preparation for leaving the hospital.
Her parents, of course, are overjoyed. “I was scared that she wasn’t going to make it, but she made it, so it’s great,” said Ms. Rideout.
They are looking forward to bringing her home, but are grateful for the care she has received. “We’re just really looking forward to the time we can bring her home. But we’re just so thankful that she’s here, though, and just getting the care and attention. So even if we can’t have her home, we feel safe that she’s here,” said Mr. Bouchat.
“Despite all she’s been through, she seems to be a very happy person,” he said.