Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Will a baby survive if born prematurely?"
I'm 28 and worry my baby might be born prematurely. One of my brothers was born prematurely and died. Can this happen to me?
Premature births can be a very stressful and frightening situation. As you noted, sometimes infants who are born prematurely are simply too weak to survive. However, even though it must be very concerning for you to worry about going into pre-term labor and delivering your baby too early, especially with your family history, it is important to remember several things. First of all, premature delivery is not known to be a genetically heritable condition. Just because your mother delivered your brother early does not mean that you will deliver your baby early. There are some known risk factors for premature birth, but your OB can go over those with you so you don't have to worry that they will affect you. Second, great progress has been made over the last decades in supporting premature infants and helping them survive. Babies who would not have survived in the past now routinely do survive and go home with their families. Right now, infants born after 23 weeks of gestation are considered potentially viable. This is a huge change from the past when supporting babies born this early was simply not possible. If you do deliver prematurely, there will be many more options and supportive treatments available in today's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) than there would have been when your brother was born. You should feel free to discuss these concerns with your OB.
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