Improving the survival rates of premature babies now makes it possible to save the lives of babies born after 22 weeks.
It used to be recommended that only babies born at 23 weeks or later be treated to save their lives.
However, there is evidence that those born earlier, albeit in small numbers, can survive the British Association for Perinatal Medicine.
It has been said that most will die, but one third could survive if treatment is possible.
Prof. Dominic Wilkinson, Consultant Neonatologist, who helped draft the guidelines, said since the previous guidelines were published, advances in treatment physicians have attempted to save the lives of some 22-week-old babies.
He said evidence from these cases convinced BAPM to update its guidance.
He said it was a "fantastic news" that some babies were born so early The stage survived now.
But he added, "Due to the very high risks, it is not always appropriate to undergo intensive medical treatment."
Surviving for babies born 22 weeks ago is not thought possible. b because the lungs are not developed enough.
The twins who survived after 22 weeks
Ruben and Jenson Powell became the youngest surviving twins born in the UK when they were born last August at 22 weeks and six days.
Parents Jennie and Rich from Brighton were in Cornwall when Mrs. Powell went to work.
They were flown to a specialist hospital in Oxford, where the twins were born the next day.
"It's really a story of hope and wonder," Ms. Powell said. "They defy every chance they got."
Ruben was given life-saving surgery eight days after delivery when his bowels failed, but he struggled despite the low survival rate.
Jenson also suffered from pulmonary weakness but pulled through.
The twins had to perform 20 blood transfusions, eye injections, and laser surgery to avoid blindness and survived both septicemia and pneumonia.
- Premature twins were born in less than 23 weeks.
What are they? Survival after 22 weeks?
Despite the progress, the chances of survival are still low.
Most babies born at 22 weeks die.
Data from 201
Of those who did, 140 were not in a condition to try to save them, and they had received palliative care to alleviate their suffering.
But where treatment aside from palliative care survived slightly more than a third of babies.
The decision as to whether a potential life-saving treatment can be offered depends on the circumstances of the individual baby.
The decision should be made by specialists in consultation with the parents.
But it was said that intensive treatment would not be appropriate for many.
What about babies born over 22 weeks?
Once you are over 22 weeks old, the chances of survival will increase from week to week.
Similar numbers are born after 23 weeks, and in about half of the cases a life-saving treatment is attempted.
In 2016, 38% survived – twice as many as 10 years earlier.
Once a baby is 26 weeks old, treatment will continue in most cases and survive 82%.
A significant number of these babies will have serious disabilities.
After 22 weeks, one third of the survivors are affected. At 26 weeks it is one of 10.
Prof. Andrew Whitelaw, an expert in neonatal medicine at the University of Bristol, said the guidance was "very useful."
He said it was important not to focus too much on the number of weeks and instead, the baby's condition at birth and different attitudes towards what is considered an "unacceptable disability" were important factors.
Why are the chances of survival soaring?
There are several reasons.
Over Over the last few years, doctors and the wider health teams have been able to treat mothers and babies increasingly better.
Steroids are given before birth to improve lung function.
Techniques for ventilating and preventing infections in premature babies have also improved.
The number of premature babies born in specialist hospitals has also increased.
Just over a decade ago, it was just over half. Now it is almost 80%.