Health Outcomes For Preemies
Health Problems & Outcomes for 24-Week Old Preemies
In general, infants that are born very early are not considered to be viable until after 24 weeks gestation. This means that if you give birth to an infant before they are 24 weeks old, their chance of surviving is usually less than 50 percent.
Some infants are born before 24 weeks gestation and do survive. But these infants have a very high chance of severe long-term health problems. About 40 percent of these preemies will suffer long-term health complications because they were born prematurely.
The survival rate for 24-week-old infants is between 60 and 70 percent.
But, a 24-week old preemie’s chance of dying goes down dramatically if a woman can stay pregnant for just two or three weeks longer. The preemie’s chances of having long-term health problems also decrease dramatically.
Health Outcomes for 28-Week Old Preemies
Survival rates for infants born at 28 weeks gestation is between 80-90 percent. Babies born at 28 weeks old only have a 10 percent chance of having long-term health problems.
Health Outcomes for 32-Week Old Preemies
If a fetus reaches 32 weeks gestation and you deliver at 32 weeks gestation, your preemie’s chance of surviving is as high as 95 percent. Their chance of dying during infancy and childhood is also very low.
Health Outcomes for 34-Week Old Preemies
Babies who are born after 34 weeks gestation have the same long-term health outcomes as babies who are delivered at full term (40 weeks). This means that if your baby is born when they are 34 weeks old, they have the same chances of being healthy as any other baby that wasn’t born prematurely.
But, it’s important to know that 34-week-old infants will probably need to stay in the hospital for one to two weeks in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. In long-term follow-up, these infants do very well and usually are as healthy as non-preemies.
Any preemie that’s born earlier than 34 weeks gestation should spend several weeks in the NICU. On average, doctors recommend preemies stay in the NICU until three to four weeks before what their regular due date would have been.
Lengthening Your Pregnancy By One or Two Weeks
If you’ve given birth a preemie before, you know the complications and problems that premature infants face. It’s important to keep in mind that for any future pregnancies, we don’t need to completely prevent preterm birth to have a positive impact on your child’s health.
If we can work with you to delay your delivery by as little as one or two weeks, you baby will have a much higher chance of staying healthy as they grow.
Can I Prevent Preterm Labor?
Researchers and obstetricians have studied for years if women can do anything to prevent preterm labor. Because of this, no one intervention or treatment can prevent all preterm births. This is because preterm birth has many causes, and one treatment on its own probably isn’t enough to prevent the many causes of preterm birth.
Can Progesterone Prevent Preterm Birth?
Recent studies have shown that treatment with a hormone named progesterone can lower the rate of preterm birth by as much as 30–50 percent. Progesterone is a steroid hormone. Pregnant women naturally produce this hormone on their own. It’s also produced by a woman’s placenta.
Some obstetricians prescribe corticosteroids to speed up lung development and prevent other complications in growing fetuses that are at risk of being born early. Corticosteroids have been shown to substantially improve infants’ long-term health outcomes.
When and how a fetus gets these corticosteroids in the womb is something that doctors determine on a case-by-case basis.
Much evidence also suggests that starting early prenatal care and closely monitoring a fetus may reduce some women’s chances of giving birth to a preemie. Early evaluation and consultation in our clinic will help you start this process. Getting medical care early on in your pregnancy will reduce your chances of having a preterm birth.
Find a Preterm Labor & Birth Specialist
When Should I Make an Appointment At the Clinic?
Any woman who is pregnant should have an appointment during the first 12 weeks of her pregnancy, regardless of her chances of having a preterm birth.
Your first visit in the Utah Preterm Birth Prevention Clinic should take place between 10 and 18 weeks gestation. This helps doctors estimate your due date and give you a physical exam to identify risk factors, including any risks that are caused by earlier preterm deliveries. Coming to our clinic when you are 10 to 18 weeks pregnant also lets us detect any inflammation or infection.
If you’ve given birth to a preemie before, we hope to talk with you either before you get pregnant or in the first 18 weeks of your pregnancy. This will help us lower your chances of having another preterm birth.
Contact the Preterm Birth Prevention Clinic
For patients coming to University of Utah Health, please call the Maternal-Fetal Medicine office at 801-581-8425. You could ask your current physician for a referral to our clinic, and we would be happy to see you.
The Prematurity Prevention Clinic is located at University of Utah Hospital in the Maternal Fetal Diagnostic Clinic.
Maternal Fetal Diagnostic Clinic
University of Utah Hospital
50 Medical Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84132
Intermountain Health Care
Call the Maternal-Fetal Medicine office at IMC at 801-507-7400.