Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Extreme Prematurity - A Realistic View

As a NICU nurse and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner student (more on that next week), I feel that the public needs a wake-up call on extreme prematurity. My professional experiences have shaped my personal views in addition to being the mother of both our premature boys. Seeing Carson and Elias born at 30 and 25 weeks gestation was shocking to say the least. Watching the hardships and hurdles they have gone through in the past six and four years has been impossible at times. Our boys are fairly unscathed from their prematurity based on their gestational ages even though both will deal with long term impacts of early birth for their lifetimes. To hear about a campaign to change the law in the UK based on the birth and death of a 21 week fetus and the misconceptions surrounding extreme prematurity is disheartening.

Stop over to Reality Rounds for a realistic view of extreme prematurity and response to the Justice for Jayden movement entitled Is letting a 21 week premature baby die considered health care rationing?. She has it right and hopefully the public perception will shift towards the actual impact of extreme prematurity instead of becoming wrapped up in the hype of "miracle" stories that the press promotes.


Claire said...

Hi Kelly -

I've been following your blog for awhile and, as a mom of two preemies myself, would love to talk to you more about NICU nursing. If you don't mind emailing me, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!


abby said...


I couldn't agree with you more. I cannot imagine what babies born much earlier than our girls--who skirted the limits of viability when they arrived at 23 weeks and 4 days--would go through. Even with two steroid shots on board, our girls had little in the way of lung development and no real skin to speak of. Everything about them was immature and this extreme prematurity is the cause of Olivia's death and the problems that Hallie is still have--and which probably will afflict her throughout her life. Hallie has one of the better outcomes possible for 23 weekers, but the amount of pain that she has endured and that she continues to endure are considerable (with her GI and feeding and sensory issues, primarily, but later on she'll probably face learning difficulties and taunting and social issues more profound than she now confronts). I think that the concept of trying to keep alive a 21 weeker is not only an exercise in futility in most cases but also ethically problematic.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree. So sad, I just dont know if people can relate unless they have either had a preemie or worked with preemies. I remember them telling me the stats at 28 weeks (while certainly better than 22 weekers) and it just not sinking in at all. And even though from the outside Liam looks like a perfectly normal 4 year old, we still have a number of "issues" I believe related to prematurity. Obviously it makes sense to save a 28 weeker but you know my point - folks dont realize it doesnt end with the NICU.

- Tiffany