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Minimum Age for Premature Babies

Minimum Age for Premature Babies

Sample Answer 

Minimum Age for Premature Babies

Any baby that is born before the gestational age of 37 weeks is considered a preterm baby. The chances of survival in preterm births increase with an increase in gestational age. For extremely preterm babies, the chances of survival are usually extremely low. For babies born at 22 weeks and below, death is almost inevitable (Seaton et al., 2013). Therefore, it is logical for hospitals to establish a minimum gestational age at which life-saving interventions can be implemented.

The minimum gestational age for life-saving in extremely preterm births is only logical. At a certain gestational age, the death of the baby is inevitable regardless of the strategies used by the care professionals. At 22 weeks, the survival rates of babies have been found to be less than 8%. In the few that survive, a majority develop long-term issues that diminish their quality of life (Lawn et al., 2013). Setting the minimum age will help reduce the use of resources to try to save babies that are not destined to survive. The babies can also be saved from the physical suffering that they experience, which eventually results in death for the very extreme preterm cases (Seaton et al., 2013). Instead of putting the baby through suffering for some days before they die, it is better to allow them the less painful road to eventual death. The minimum age also saves the parents of the baby the emotional experience of seeing their baby suffer, only to eventually die.

Nonetheless, birth weight is often used as a predictor of a baby’s immaturity to decide whether life-saving interventions should be initiated. While birth weight is a good indicator of a baby’s maturity, immaturity is better assessed with gestational age (Hemming, 2010). Baby development in the womb is a process that occurs in stages. The baby’s weight can be a result of other factors, but the gestational age is more likely to accurately represent the baby’s maturity stage. Thus, weight should not be used to replace gestational age as a determinant of immaturity.


Hemming, K. (2010). Immaturity vs. fetal growth: birth-weight or gestational age? Retrieved from:

Lawn, J. E., Davidge, R., Paul, V. K., von Xylander, S., de Graft Johnson, J., Costello, A., … & Molyneux, L. (2013). Born too soon: care for the preterm baby. Reproductive health, 10(1), S5.

Seaton, S. E., King, S., Manktelow, B. N., Draper, E. S., & Field, D. J. (2013). Babies born at the threshold of viability: changes in survival and workload over 20 years. Archives of Disease in Childhood-Fetal and Neonatal Edition, 98(1), F15-F20.


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Minimum Age for Premature Babies

Should hospitals establish a minimum gestational age at which premature babies must be in order to invoke life-saving interventions?
What are the financial, physiological, and emotional implications of establishing such a regulation?
Would birth weight be a better indicator than gestational age?

Minimum Age for Premature Babies

Minimum Age for Premature Babies

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