Medical Q&As

Premature baby

My nephew was born 14 and half weeks premature. He has suffered bleeding to the brain, suspected perforated bowel and a heart murmur. He is now one month old. What are his chances of surviving this? How will he be affected by his prematurity long term? When can we relax and know that he is out of the woods?

When I qualified in 1977 your little nephew would not have survived beyond his day of birth. Nowadays very premature infants can survive extreme distress with the benefit of high tech paediatric intensive care. I donít know what the babyís chances of survival are. Only the doctors involved in his care could answer that question for you. However, if he survives he is certainly going to be followed up over an extended period of time in order to detect any developmental delays at an early stage should they occur. I am not overly concerned that the baby has a heart murmur because all babies with his degree of prematurity have murmurs. I have often been amazed at the extraordinary resilience of premature babies who have had a very difficult early infancy and yet went on to develop into perfectly normal children. Every premature baby is unique so I can only answer your question in general terms. Donít give up hope for this baby. The doctors and nurses will be fighting hard to do their best for him.