OB ABCs

Week 24

week_24As you proceed into this vital time during your pregnancy, your baby is considered almost to the stage of viability, which most medical and legal experts view as occurring with the 28-week mark.

Although your baby is almost 1.5 pounds, it’s important to keep realistic expectations.

The survival rate for infants born preterm has greatly risen in the past two decades, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Thanks to advances in medical technology for any hospital’s smallest patients, more preterm babies are living.

However, the life of a parent of a very preterm infant or “micro-preemie” can be filled with complex medical decisions. Babies born between 22 and 25 weeks miss out on a number of needed developmental stages, especially neurodevelopment.

If your physician has identified your baby as having the potential for preterm birth, it’s understandably difficult, yet important to review the risks both to your and your baby’s health that can accompany a preterm birth. Your physician should discuss wishes and concerns in regards to:

  • Prognosis
  • Challenges a baby faces at the stage of pregnancy
  • Costs associated with caring for a preterm child
  • Health dangers a mother may face when birthing early
  • Long-term implications of raising a premature baby

The outlook for viability of preterm births has improved thanks to medical advancements. Premature births that occur as early as 27 weeks have produced children who do not experience developmental difficulties. Although giving birth at this time is not recommended except in cases of medical necessity, babies can be healthy. The sooner a baby is born, however, the higher the chances for lasting disabilities will be.

TIPS

  • A recent study by the March of Dimes has shown a continual decline of preterm births in the United States. Based upon 99.9 percent of U.S. births in 2008, the study found a 3 percent decline in the number of reported premature babies. This figure represents 14,000 babies. Researchers hope these findings are evidence of a new trend of full-term healthy pregnancies.
  • Spontaneous preterm labor is most commonly responsible for preterm delivery of an infant. In these cases, labor begins without cause or the membrane sac inside the uterus ruptures too soon, forcing the mother into labor. About 25 percent of preterm birth cases, however, result from induced labor due to health risks for the mother or child.