The study, led by Dr. Gregory Moore of the Children’s Hospital of Easter Ontario (CHEO), found that 43% of babies born at 22 weeks had a moderate to severe impairment, and only 12 children from this study group survived. Babies born at 23, 24 and 25 weeks are more likely to survive and likelihood of impairment ranges from 40 to 14%. Essentially, the longer children were able to gestate, the less likely they would develop severe to moderate impairments.
Severe impairments include a significantly low IQ, blindness, immobility and incapacity to hear. Dr. Steven Miller, head of neurology at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick children, reflected that it would be unlikely these children would be able to live independently.
Children with a moderate to severe impairment were more likely to have higher IQs, partial vision, some ability to hear with assistance from hearing aids, and perhaps some mobility. These less severe effects could make it possible for children to live independently.
Dr. Moore hopes that this study will help better prepare parents of extremely premature children for the ongoing challenges that they will face. And, in some cases, consider benefits of palliative care.
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