Saving a 21-Week-Old Preemie May Not Be Great News

April Peveteaux

preemie 21 weeksAn incredible feat took place in a hospital in Germany last month when a preemie born at 21 weeks, went home with her parents. Sadly, her twin brother did not make it. Like most babies born so early, little Kilian Mangold died from complications. What was stunning, was that his sister, baby Frieda, who weighed about one pound at birth, not only lived but got a good report from her doctor. In fact, he said there was "no indication that she will not be healthy." It's truly a miracle. If, indeed, the doctor's prognosis turns out to be true.

After all, most babies born so early only have a 3% chance of surviving without "“profound neurodevelopmental impairments.” If baby Frieda defies all of the odds, obviously, we'll all be amazed and grateful, not the least of all her parents. But if she does wind up being permanently damaged, are life-saving measure for babies born so premature worth it?

Of course all of the statistics in the world can't change a mother's mind when the question on the table is whether or not to save her baby. But 21 weeks is so early, that it hasn't even been considered a viable pregnancy. And in fact, was described as a miscarriage in the not-too-distant past.

Remember that tests for abnormal chromosomes take place between 15 and 20 weeks gestation. People can make the decision to abort just one week prior to when the Mangold twins were born. Think back to your own 21-week pregnancy. I was barely even showing during my first pregnancy (not that this means there wasn't a tiny baby inside of me -- there was.)

Some people will argue that it's a waste to use so many resources to save a 21-week-old pregnancy, when the prognosis is so dire. But again, if you're the mother of the preemie, this argument is a non-starter. Medical terminology changes as we progress, but a 21-week pregnancy is still developmentally the same. And it's unreal that this baby is able to go home and start a normal life. Let's hope baby Frieda's luck holds out.

What do you think about saving this 21-week-old preemie?


Image via DaveQ/Flickr


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