Tuesday 18 December 2018

All babies born at 28 weeks in Rotunda survive

Stock photo
Stock photo
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

For the first time in its neonatal history, all premature babies born at 28 weeks have survived at the Rotunda Hospital - with 10 more young lives saved than in any previous year.

New research at the world's oldest maternity hospital shines a light on the life-saving effect the utilisation of certain drugs and treatment plans has had, with all of the 200 pre-term babies born at 28 weeks surviving in 2017 -the highest number on record.

In previous years, up to 95pc of the infants lived at 28 weeks.

Master of the Rotunda Prof Fergal Malone said: "The 100pc figure accounts for 10 more babies' lives being saved.

"That's amazing for the babies, their families and the children's long-term health."

Drugs such as steroids are now helping the pre-term infants' lungs develop while magnesium has decreased the risk of cerebral palsy. And staff are working to get premature babies off ventilators at a quicker pace, to help them learn to breathe unaided.

The hospital holds cross-departmental meetings each week for the most serious pregnancies, where all experts discuss planning the birth.

Decisions are also made as to when a difficult labour is best scheduled, to avoid last-minute issues or busy hospital periods.

Prof Malone said this is to avoid having complex births take place at "2am on a Saturday night, for example".

"It's so positive when we see premature babies with high survival rates," he said.

"Being born pre-term is very high risk - it's associated with risks of death and of disability.

"When a baby survives, to see improvements in their health, their life, is really, really important. It makes a big difference to us as medics at the hospital.

"Families have to deal with the concern is their baby going to survive and if their baby survives, what are the chances they survive and be healthy.

"When care for pre-term babies improves, that has a lifelong positive effect for their health.

"Fewer babies are also left with long-term disability. Having stronger, healthier babies is clearly a good thing for everyone."

"Sadly, we can't guarantee every baby will survive, but the 2017 figures are very hopeful," he added.

The hospital will mark World Prematurity Day this Saturday.

Every year 4,500 babies, or one every two hours, are born prematurely - before 40 weeks - in Ireland.

Irish Independent

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