Premature Births

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Skywalker8921, Dec 1, 2013.

  1. Skywalker8921 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2011
    star 4
    http://www.today.com/health/more-ti...felong-challenges-8C11566210?ocid=msnhp&pos=1

    The advances in medical technology in the last 25 years that have helped premature babies to survive is absolutely astounding. Strange as it may seem, I am proud to be part of this group. I was born at 26 weeks in 1989 and was in the hospital for three months before I came home. Thankfully, I haven't suffered serious complications. I do have mild hearing loss in both ears that necessitates the use of hearing aids, a slight case of CP that affects my left leg, and some motor control issues.

    I do wonder, though, is 25-26 weeks the only viable threshold for preterm babies to live? Is there no possibility at all that children who are born from 20-26 weeks could survive? My sister was born at only 22 weeks and didn't make it, but maybe, just maybe, if the treatments outlined in the article had existed in the late '80s, she could have lived.

    (I had to laugh at the article's description of neonatal care units as "no longer loud and brightly lit. To this day I cannot stand to have any kind of light on in my bedroom when I'm trying to sleep, likely as a result of having a light on all the time when I was in the hospital)

    PS: This is a serious subject and one that has affected me personally. You're welcome to express your opinions, but please try to stay on topic and keep joking remarks, even those made in jest, to a minimum.
  2. Jedi Ben Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 19, 1999
    star 7
    Sad to say but I don't think survivability can ever be pre-determined.

    Had I been born on time my birthday would probably be July / August, as it is it's end of May. But in 1976, prem babies in the UK had one ace card in their favour - the hottest summer going and that was good for us. It was thought that if a baby weighed more, then that helped the baby's chances, however, I was about 2Ib and a heavier baby than me died and I lived. Why and how? Just seems to be the way the cards were dealt.

    Medical tech has changed greatly from then, for the better in this area, but that doesn't mean we get total control either.
  3. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    Its so hard to decide that you have to look at these on a case by case basis.

    I have a special interest in this. My 501st Garrison has Miracle Babies as our chosen charity. Every year we have a humidicrib set up when we do our big Supanova troop we raise heaps of money for the charity, a lot of it comes unbidden from the people who take photos of us.
  4. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 8
    During my first pregnancy, the placenta abrupted at 29 weeks and I was put on strict bed rest; I was told that my doctors wanted me to make it to at least 37 weeks, although 36 would have been acceptable. I was monitored every week with fetal non-stress tests. I did make it to 38 weeks before having an emergency C-section. He's a healthy 8-year-old now but it was a scary ride.

    My point is that premature birth is still pretty dangerous, especially for male babies as their lungs don't develop as quickly (I knew I was having a boy). The medical advancements are fantastic, I have thought of JFK's son who was born in 1962 or 63 with underdeveloped lungs; he would have had a better chance now. And if the advancements are such that babies born earlier in gestation can survive, great, but I hope that the focus is on the survival of preemies born at the stages they are coming now, as opposed to pushing survivability back further.
  5. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    The unspoken part is the quality of life for premature births.

    My wife and I are be very, very lucky premature birth parents. My wife's waters broke at 29 weeks, but very fortunately her contractions didn't start, and she was able to hang in there in bedrest under the care of one of the best neonatal hospitals in the southern hemisphere -- King Edward Memorial Hospital in Perth, Western Australia, mad props to them -- for a period of three weeks before her readings started to change, and our daughter was induced at 32 weeks. We definitely got the steroids the article is talking about, which in combination with the fact my wife and daughter hung in there 3 weeks I think ultimately made all the difference. She was kept in humidicrib and subsequently in care for another 6-8 weeks before we took her home. The only lasting effect the doctors have seen from her, and she's 6 years old now, was a very, very minor tightness in her hamstrings - so minor it pretty much doesn't show at all, and which doesn't keep her from running and which we spent the next three years compensating for via exercises and getting her into dancing early so she'd learn to stretch.

    As Skywalker# said, Cerebral Palsy is a very common condition for premature births; technically our daughter has it. Like I said we were very, very lucky since we have virtually no symptoms at all; it's not infrequent for outright paralysis or inability to walk to result. Ongoing lung conditions are also common because invariably birth takes place before the lungs are fully developed. Brain damage sometimes results as well (termed, in what I regard as miserable cotton-woolling to expectant parents, as "developmental delay"). And those happen even in kids who are born relatively "late" around the 28-30 week mark as our daughter was. For those at the 20-28 week mark it's even more common and a much tougher road.

    From what I remember of the discussions we had with the doctors survivability is an individual thing, and comes down as much to birth weight as birth date. I've seen discussions of babies born at 0.5 kg or slightly less and early (the lower end of the twenties), but it's as tough as hell a fight for them and as I said the ramifications are lifelong. The advances in medical science are clearly astounding on this: the moment I started allowing myself to hope everything would be okay for my daughter shortly after she was born was when she went for a routine MRI and the radiologist asked what birth weight and what gestational age. When I told her, she was casual: "She'll be fine, then." That's when I remembered this was a specialist neonatal unit that took just about every case of premature birth in our state if not interstate before about 26 weeks or so; they had a damn good understanding of who'd make it and who wouldn't simply because it's all they did, and consequently they got very, very good at it. And the best testament of hope was the massive wall of photos and letters that was the entry hall to that unit - of former patients, pictures of kids 5,8,12, 17 and up, who had turned out just fine.

    Me, I think as they more and more accurately simulate conditions in the womb, the odds of survivability will increase. This is always going to be a hard, difficult field to find advances in since beyond a point you'd have to experiment on live mothers which is unconscionable, but neonatal clinics are performing miracles every single day of the week.
  6. Skywalker8921 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2011
    star 4
    CP doesn't bother me that much, TBH. I can't bend my leg all the way back, and sometimes the muscles will get a little tight. When walking, I have a tendency to drag my left foot occasionally or the heel will come up off the ground quite a bit while my toes and right foot stay in normal contact with the ground. Standing up straight gets difficult after a short time since my leg starts to shake, then I have to lean on my right leg a little more to take the pressure off my left.

    At some point in the future, I'd like to see if I could have surgery for cochlear implants to help me hear normally and get rid of the hearing aids. The chances might be slim since it's nerve damage that caused my hearing loss, but I still want to look into it.

    @anakinfansince1983, Mom was told after I was born that if she and Dad wanted to try again, she would have to stay on bed rest the last 4-5 months and take meds, but there was still no guarantee she would make it to term, and given what happened with my sister and I, a younger sibling probably would have been born early like we were.
  7. PiettsHat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2011
    star 4
    Viability has actually been reduced to 24 weeks and there have been survivors born as young as 21 weeks. The vast majority of physicians, though, do not recommend resuscitation at less than 24 weeks.
  8. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    For a statistical context lacking any personal experience, this does have some statistics for births in the 23rd to 25th week, although it doesn't list any weeks below that, although I would think those statistics exist.
    http://www.preemiesurvival.org/info/
  9. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
    star 4
    My mother's due date was October 9th, 1980; my actual arrival was August 15th. I spent the first 6 weeks of my life in an incubator, and was not expected to live at all. Thankfully, God had other plans.

    On a related note, my grandmother Charlotte was the one who helped me keep breathing that first night...and she passed away a couple of months ago. This is my first Christmas without her; its definitely a tough one. I'm trying my best to be positive, though.
    Violent Violet Menace likes this.
  10. Violent Violet Menace Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2004
    star 4
    I'm sorry for your loss, and I hope you still have a merry Christmas.