HealthDay News — Infants born between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy are more likely to survive now than a decade ago, according to a study published in the February 16 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Noelle Younge, MD, MHS, a neonatologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, NC, and colleagues reviewed the records of 4,274 infants born at 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy. The researchers looked at 3 periods, from 2000 to 2003, 2004 to 2007, and 2008 to 2011. The infants were born at 11 different U.S. medical centers. The infants’ median birth weight was about 1.3 pounds throughout the study periods. 

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The investigators found that overall survival rose from 30% at the start of the research to 36% in the last time period. Survival for the youngest of babies – those born at 22 weeks – remained the same, about 4%. The babies’ development was then assessed at around age 2. The number of babies who survived without neurodevelopmental problems at 2 increased from 16 to 20%. However, the number of infants who survived and had neurodevelopmental problems didn’t change significantly, from 15% in the first years to 16% in the last period.

“The rate of survival without neurodevelopmental impairment increased between 2000 and 2011 in this large cohort of periviable infants,” the authors write.

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