Pre term Babies – Chances of Survival

A baby that is born before the 37th week of pregnancy is considered to be pre-term. Pre-term babies may experience a variety of health problems, and have a lower survival rate. In ages past, premature birth meant almost no chance for survival. Advances in medical technology have greatly improved the situation, but the mortality rate for preterm babies is still very high.

Preterm babies tend to have problems with lung development, and this is the most common problem. Their lungs are often not developed enough to function adequately on their own. In addition, other organs, such as the brain, liver, kidneys, and intestinal organs can suffer from complications.

As a rule of thumb, the later that a baby is born, the better her chances for survival. Babies who are born at 24 weeks of pregnancy have about a 50% survival rate. Half of those that survive will have permanent problems as a result of being born preterm. Babies born at 28 weeks do much better, with about an 80% survival rate. Babies who are born after 32 weeks have a much higher rate of survival; some studies suggest that this is in the 90% and above range. In addition to gestational age, the larger that the baby is when it is born increases its chances of survival. Babies who weigh between 1.1 and 1.5 pounds have a survival rate around 40%; babies between 1.5 and 2.2 pounds have a survival rate of about 70%.

Preterm birth can have a variety of causes. These can include:

– pre eclampsia

– twin or multiple pregnancy

– polyhydramnios or hydramnios

– problems with the placenta, including placental abruption or placenta previa

– an abnormally shaped uterus

– an incompetent cervix, or other cervical problems

– fetal abnormalities

– serious maternal illness

– an incorrect estimation of gestational age

– some studies suggest a link between smoking and preterm labor

– Alcohol and drug abuse may also cause preterm labor.

In many instances, however, the cause of preterm labor and birth cannot be determined.


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