Kansas City,
12:05 PM

Two Kansas moms forge a friendship over the birth of micropreemie babies

As soon as Kaylee Hurt heard that Ashley Taylor was in the hospital and rushed there only 25 weeks into her first pregnancy, the former schoolmate felt compelled to act.

She prayed. She reached out.

“Hang in there. Stay strong,” Kaylee recalled messaging a frightened Ashley on Facebook in late February. “If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to message me or call.”

As the mother of a micropreemie herself — a daughter, Kaydee June, born nearly four months early at a minuscule 1 pound and 6 ounces in 2013 — Kaylee understood what might lie ahead.

Because they are born exceedingly premature (before about 28 weeks of gestational age), micropreemie babies are also exceedingly fragile. They are the smallest of the small,accounting for less than 1 percent of the nearly 4 million babies born each year in the United States. They generally weigh no more than 1,000 grams, or 2.2 pounds.

But because of steady advances in medical care, micropreemies are now surviving at, and even progressing forward from, ever-younger gestational ages.

Born at 625 grams, Kaydee had spent 280 days isolated in neonatal care units, first at Overland Park Regional Medical Center and then at Children’s Mercy Hospital. At birth, her head was barely bigger than an orange. Her hands and feet were like jelly beans.

There’s no doubt that the earlier infants are born, the more problems they have. Every week an infant remains in its mother’s womb dramatically increases the health of the fetus.

Eugenia Pallotto, the medical director of the NICU at Children’s Mercy, cautioned that, even with advances being made, micropreemie health remains extremely complex. The percentage of micropreemies born at 22 weeks’ gestation that live long enough to be discharged from the hospital remains tremendously low.

“If you look at the literature, at 22 weeks there are really very few survivors,” she said.

On average about 6 percent of those infants tended to survive to discharge, according to a comprehensive study published last September in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The JAMA paper evaluated the survival, illness rates and care of some 35,000 extremely premature babies born in a 20-year period, from 1993 to 2013 at more than two dozen NICUs across the country.

Of the very few 22-week infants that did live, almost none survived without what physicians call major morbidities, such as blindness, severe lung damage or brain hemorrhages.

At 23, 24 and 25 weeks, survival was much better, 33 percent, 65 percent and 81 percent. But with few exceptions, all those infants also tended to suffer major complications.

On the more positive side, however, the study also showed that for micropreemies born at 26, 27 and 28 weeks’ gestation, survival rate percentiles ranged from the high 80s into the high 90s. At 28 weeks, more than half of babies discharged from the hospital even as far back as 2012 were leaving without major problems.



Read the full story via The Kansas City Star.

Learn more about the NICU at Children's Mercy.