New study ‘backs abortion law’
There has been no improvement in survival rates for babies born before 24 weeks in the past 10 years, a new study is expected to say.
Of infants born at 23 weeks, 40% die on the labour ward and of those that live only 26% survive hospital, BBC News 24 reported.
The figures are from a study called EPICure 2, which examined premature births in England in 2006.
An improvement has been seen in survival rates for babies who reach 24 weeks, when 47% survive, and 25 weeks, when 67% live.
The findings seem to reinforce the existing upper limit for abortions, which currently stands at 24 weeks.
Last October, the Science and Technology Committee of MPs found no scientific justification for lowering the 24-week limit. This was because survival rates for babies born before this point had not improved since 1995.
Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris who sits on the committee said: “Our report concluded that while the evidence showed that survival in premature infants born at 24 weeks and above had improved, there was good evidence that below that point – the current abortion time limit – neonatal survival has not changed since 1995.
“This study is crucial in adding to the scientific consensus that there is absolutely no medical basis for a change in the law. This national survey covered every extremely premature birth in the country – in all units – and the figures are comprehensive.
But Tory MP Nadine Dorries said the study was flawed because it concentrated on the most seriously ill babies who were often born in hospitals without neo-natal units and this would adversely affect their chance of survival.
She said: “Figures released by Professor Wyatt from University College London Hospital recently show very clearly that poorly premature babies born below 24 weeks have an excellent chance of survival if specialist neo-natal help is immediately at hand.”