High survival rate for extremely preterm infants in Sweden

Published 2009-06-11 00:00. Updated 2013-11-26 10:29

Extremely preterm infants have a much higher chance of survival in Sweden than in many other countries, according to a new study co-authored by scientists at Lund University and Karolinska Institutet published in the prestigious journal JAMA.

Advances in neonatal care have made it possible for doctors to save the lives of ever greater numbers of preterm babies. However, the kind of care that the very earliest infants should receive is a moot point, as there is no real knowledge of how it affects the risk of the baby dying or suffering permanent injury.

Between 2004 and 2007, the researchers involved in the joint national EXPRESS (Extremely Preterm Infant Study in Sweden) study gathered data on every baby born in Sweden before the 27th week of pregnancy. Their results show that 70 per cent of the babies born alive were living one year after delivery. Survival rates varied from 9.8 per cent for babies born in the 22nd week, to 85 per cent for those born in the 26th week.

The researchers attribute the relatively high survival rates to the active care of the mothers as well as to intensive care and the quality of the care given to the babies. According to the authors, the results are a strong indication that intensive care cannot be denied extremely preterm babies for the simple reason that the chances of survival are too low.


EXPRESS Group, Fellman V, Hellström-Westas L, Norman M, Westgren M, Källén K, Lagercrantz H, Lindgren A, Marsál K, Serenius F, Wennergren M.

One-year survival of extremely preterm infants after active perinatal care in Sweden

The Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, 2009; 301(21):2225-2233.

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