In every discussion involving premature babies, who are on the very edge of life, it is mandatory to start with the abortion laws. In UK, the upper time limit for abortion was reduced from 28 weeks to 24 weeks because of evidence that more and more babies were surviving when they were born at that point. With today’s pace of medical breakthroughs it is hard to comprehend whether the current abortion time limit should be reduced.
According to an article from MedicinePlus, a premature baby, or preemie, is defined as one “born before the 37th week of pregnancy. Premature birth occurs in between 8 percent to 10 percent of all pregnancies in the United States. Because they are born too early, preemies weigh much less than full-term babies. They may have health problems because their organs did not have enough time to develop. Preemies need special medical care in a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. They stay there until their organ systems can work on their own”.
This topic is a very debatable medical issue that tests whether we are approaching the biological limit of nature. Having understood the current abortion laws, it would quickly spring to the mind whether babies born within 23 weeks of pregnancy and less should be left to die even if there is proper treatment to erect their life to the same level as their healthy colleagues.
Increase in Preterm Births
According to the report from ScientistLive journal, “Wherever trend data are available, rates of preterm birth are increasing. For example, the rate of preterm birth in the U.S. has increased 36 percent in the past 25 years. Key factors contributing to this increase include a rise in the number of pregnancies in women over age 35; the growing use of assisted reproduction techniques, leading to an increase in the number of twin and higher order multiple births; and the rise in the number of late preterm births (defined as between 34 and 36 weeks gestation)”.
The journal extends to reflect the health difficulties those born as premature face: “Babies who survive a preterm birth face the risk of serious lifelong health problems including cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing loss, learning disabilities, and other chronic conditions. Even infants born late preterm have a greater risk of re-hospitalisation, breathing problems, feeding difficulties, temperature instability (hypothermia), jaundice and delayed brain development.”
More than one million infants die each year because they are born too early, according to the just released White Paper, The Global and Regional Toll of Preterm Birth. The new White Paper shows that in 2005, an estimated 13 million babies worldwide were born preterm — defined as birth at less than 37 full weeks of gestation. That is almost 10 percent of total births worldwide. About one million deaths in the first month of life (or 28 percent of total newborn deaths) are attributable to preterm birth. According to the White Paper, the highest preterm birth rates in the world are found in Africa, followed by North America (United States and Canada combined). “If world leaders are serious about reaching the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health, then strategies and funding for reducing death and disability related to preterm birth must receive priority,” Dr. Howse adds.
Even if there is lack of clear cut information as to how premature babies arise and how to prevent the condition from the scientific community, there are underlying causes and risk factors deemed to be associated with bringing this scenario.
Some known risk factors for preterm birth that can be identified before or during pregnancy. Women who have already had one preterm baby are at greater risk, for instance. Some preterm births may be preventable by addressing known modifiable risk factors, including:
- Nutrition and body weight;
- Existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes;
- Alcohol and tobacco use, and secondhand smoke;
- Early elective inductions and elective Cesarean delivery.