Half of very premature babies in the Netherlands now survive

New rules introduced in the Netherlands in late 2010 have had a marked effect on the survival rates of very premature babies, the NRC reports on Thursday.

Half the 178 babies born at 24 or 25 weeks in the Netherlands in 2011 survived, the research shows. The survival rate, which researcher Monique de Laat describes as ‘good’, is comparable to other countries.

The Netherlands introduced the 24-week deadline in October 2010. Before then, it was up to individual hospitals whether or not to treat very premature infants.

Very premature babies can suffer major complications because their organs, including their lungs, are not fully developed. There are no figures comparing the health of 2011’s surviving premature infants with those born at 40 weeks.

The NRC points out the 24-week deadline is significant in the Netherlands because it is the upper limit for abortions. Late abortions are usually only carried out in the Netherlands if significant abnormalities are identified during the 20-week scan.