Health written question – answered on 12th September 2014.

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Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many babies who were born before 24 weeks gestation survived in each of the last five years.

Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

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
22 weeks 178 10
23 weeks 305 60
Under 22 weeks and birthweight < 1,000g 247 5
22 weeks 171 11
23 weeks 332 76
Under 22 weeks and birthweight < 1,000g 235 4
22 weeks 152 10
23 weeks 296 79
Under 22 weeks and birthweight < 1,000g 368 10
22 weeks 312 20
23 weeks 683 135
Source: ONS

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