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What to Expect When You Have an Extremely Premature Infant - Topic Overview

How many of these babies survive being born?

The more premature the baby is, the lower the chances of survival are. Very few infants survive when they are born at 22 to 23 weeks of pregnancy. The table below shows estimates based on two sources.

Chances of survival1, 2

Weeks of pregnancy

Survival rates

23

Nearly 2 to 3 out of 10 survived (about 7 to 8 out of 10 died)

24

5 out of 10 survived (5 out of 10 died)

25

Nearly 8 out of 10 survived (about 2 out of 10 died)

It's important to remember that research results are only general numbers. Everyone's case is different, and these numbers may not show what will happen in your baby's case.

How many of these babies have problems later on?

In the first year of life, babies that have a very low birth weight are more likely to be in the hospital more often than babies who were born at a healthier weight.2

Many problems can't be found until after an infant's more urgent problems are under control. For example:

Below are examples from studies of children who survived being born extremely early. Researchers looked at how likely these children were to have problems later on, based on how early they were born and/or what they weighed at birth.

Chances of having problems

Weeks of pregnancy, or birth weight

Number of infants who had problems later on

Weight less than 1000 g (2 lb)

Up to 4 out of 10 had one or more moderate or severe problems by the time they were age 8.3 These problems included intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, blindness, and deafness.

23 to 25 weeks

At age 2½, about 3 out of 10 had one or more of the severe problems listed above.4 This means that about 7 out of 10 did not get these problems. At age 6, about 5 out of 10 children born at these early ages were more likely than other children to have attention problems, behavior problems, and problems adjusting to school.5

25 to 26 weeks

Nearly 4 out of 10 had problems at age 19, including problems with hearing, sight, intellectual disability, and having a job.6 This means that more than 6 out of 10 did not have these problems.

For a tool that can help estimate the outcome for babies born at 22 to 25 weeks of age, go to www.nichd.nih.gov/about/org/cdbpm/pp/prog_epbo/epbo_case.cfm.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 22, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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