Premature babies and survival

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: March 2nd, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Most newborns spend their days wondering when that fuzzy-looking lady is going to come back with a bottle or a binky. But extremely premature babies only have one agenda… survival.

And new research shows some of these babies are better at it than others.

University of Florida researchers found that gender and race play a role in the survival of the tiniest, most at-risk premature babies. Their findings confirm what doctors have noticed for years… black girls tend to have the best chance of surviving among extremely premature infants.

Scientists compared the survival rates of five-thousand babies who weighed between less than two pounds at birth. Black girls were twice as likely to make it to their first birthdays as white boys.

Black preemies had better odds of survival than white babies, but the biggest advantages are not racial. Girls of both races were nearly twice as likely to live as boys.

Only about one percent of babies are born in the United States weighing two pounds or less. These children face more disabling health problems because they’re usually born before their organs have had time to develop fully.

Doctors say this research can help give anxious parents a more realistic idea of what to expect.

There is no evidence yet to explain why girls have a survival advantage over boys. But researchers say girls tend to be born with better-developed lungs, which could be part of the explanation.

Who knew girl power wasn’t just a slogan?