Extremely Premature Babies Improved in Survival Rate, Study Shows
Feb 20, 2017 07:09 AM EST
Researchers revealed that more babies born extremely premature are surviving without neurological problems. They describe the improving outlook in a newly conducted study.
The study was conducted by Duke Health in the United States and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study group includes 4,274 babies born between 22 and 24 weeks.
Compared with the batch of babies born a decade earlier, a significant percentage of toddlers now show no signs of moderate or severe cognitive and motor delay. The improvement is largely credited to changes in care, the study says, according to BBC.
One of the researchers of the study, Prof Noelle Younge called the findings "encouraging". He said, "We see evidences of improvement over time. But we still need to keep an eye on the overall numbers, as a large percentage of babies born at this stage still do not survive." He explained that those who survive without significant impairment at the age of two are still vulnerable towards other factors that may challenge their overall health.
About 30 percent of children included in the study born between 2000 to 2003 survived, while the survival rate increased to 36 perceny for babies born between 2008 to 2011. The proportion of survivors who did not have a neurological impairment, showed a similar rise, from 16 percent to 20 percent.
Prof Michael Cotten, one of the other lead researchers, said that changes in the culture of neonatal intensive care units were the underlying contributor of the improvement observed in the study. "We've taken a big focus on preventing infections, and there's a lot more encouragement and support for the use of mothers' milk than there was 15 years ago, which has also been linked to better outcomes," he said.
Prof Cotten also revealed that infection rates have diminished in neonatal intensive care units over the past two decades. The greater use of steroids among mothers at the risk of premature birth have helped the development of babies in the womb, which have complemented the overall improvement in survival rate and led to fewer signs of developmental delay, he added.