The latest data published by the Office for National Statistics in October 2013 shows that very few live births occur before 24 weeks gestation. Infant mortality rates for babies born this early remain extremely high. For babies born in 2011, one in 1,000 of live births occurred at less than 24 weeks; the infant mortality rate for these babies was 894.7 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Data from the Epicure series of studies of survival and later health among babies and young people who were born at extremely low gestations found there was no difference in the ongoing illnesses or complications affecting surviving babies born between 22 and 25 weeks gestation in 1995 and 2006. High levels of disability were present at six years of age in surviving children born before 24 weeks, including cerebral palsy, low cognitive scores, mobility problems, blindness or profound hearing loss.
The following table shows the most recently available data on the number of live births prior to 24 weeks gestation, and the number of those births that survived until one year of age, in England and Wales. The data for 2007 and 2008 have been combined.
|Gestational age (weeks)||Number of live births||Number of survived babies up until one year after birth|
|Under 22 weeks and birthweight < 1,000g||220||4|
|Under 22 weeks and birthweight < 1,000g||247||5|
|Under 22 weeks and birthweight < 1,000g||235||4|
|Under 22 weeks and birthweight < 1,000g||368||10|