About 11 percent of all pregnancies in the US deliver prematurely, and more than 450,000 pregnancies will be at risk for complications. Strictly speaking, most doctors define the age of viability as being about 24 weeks of gestation. In many hospitals, 24 weeks is the cutoff point for when doctors will use intensive medical intervention to attempt to save the life of a baby born prematurely. A baby born at 24 weeks would generally require a lot of intervention, potentially including mechanical ventilation and other invasive treatments followed by a lengthy stay in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
In the hands of experienced specialists, though, babies born slightly earlier may have a chance at survival. Babies born at 23 weeks may survive with these specialists in a state-of-the-art NICU, but the odds of survival are much lower. The earliest baby to have ever survived premature birth was born at 21 weeks and 6 days, and this was reported in the news as having been a "miracle."
Odds of survival increase as the pregnancy progresses, and even an extra week in the womb can make a difference. In general, premature babies born closer to 37 weeks will be much better off than those born before 28 weeks.[back to top]
The levels of care are used as a method of designating the care provided by hospitals for newborn infants. It is based according to the complexity of care provided, ranging from basic care or level one to the most complex careLevel I - Basic Neonatal Care The minimum required for any facility that provides inpatient maternity care. The hospital must have the necessary personnel and equipment to
An infant in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, has their weight measured on a daily basis. An infant or premature baby’s weight is an important number to know, as it can affect everything from diet and nutrition to medications.
Neonatologists and Pediatricians will carefully monitor an NICU infant’s weight to determine the best possible care plan. Many parents with babies in the NICU generally expect to see a weight in pounds. However, in the NICU, the common measurement used is actually in grams. Measuring in grams is a far more accurate way to determine feedings, nutrition, and medications.[back to top]
When parents ask about their NICU infant’s weight, they can use the following pounds to grams translation:
If a baby is born with a low birth weight, it is possible the infant will be admitted to the NICU. Low infant birth weights can be classified as: