TODAY |

'Jaxon might not be with us today' – calls for government to invest more in keeping premature babies alive

There are calls for the government to pump more funding and resources into helping doctors keep alive the most young and vulnerable of premature babies.

One issue being looked as is a national standard for resuscitating babies that are born prematurely at 23 weeks. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes as a working group looks at a potential national standard for resuscitating babies born as young as 23 weeks.

One mother who knows about the trials of premature births is Emma Hodephol.

"If it wasn't for this hospital and what they've done, Jaxon (born at 27 weeks) might not be with us today and it's incredible the time you see the doctors putting in to study and doing as much as they can for all these babies," Ms Hodephol says.

Some hospitals already do resuscitate babies born at 23 weeks, but for others it's 24 - depending on what doctor's decide.

"For me, certainly in our Wellington unit we've looked after 23 weekers for a number of years, and we know that we can and we do have good quality survival at those gestational ages," Dr Max Berry says, who is one of the members of the government working group.

"We've got children who have come through this whole process who are going to school who are doing normal every day things."

The issues surrounding these protocols are because some premature children are more likely to have health and development issues as they grow.

Dr Berry argues medical advances mean resuscitating 23-week-olds should be more common practice.

And she wants more government support.

"I think we need to be very clear about what our resource is, what our national bed occupancies look like and look at how the Govt supports us with the work we do with these babies and families," he says.

"I think you can gauge a country by how well it looks after its most vulnerable citizens, these babies are our most vulnerable citizens, let's continue to invest in their future and wellbeing."

The working group will come back with its recommendations by the end of the year.