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Learning Disability: Babies

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the effect advances in peri-natal and neo-natal care have had on the number of babies with profound and multiple learning disabilities surviving beyond infancy; and if he will make a statement. (244802)

No recent assessment has been made.

Advances in technology and health care expertise has led to increasing survival rates of very premature babies over the last 20 years. Over the past decade, survival has improved dramatically for babies born at 26 weeks of gestation and above so that now over 80 per cent. survive.

The EPICure Study (led by the Department of Child Health, University of Nottingham) was established in 1995 to determine the chances of survival and later health status by following up children who were born in the United Kingdom and Ireland at less than 26 weeks gestational age during a 10 month period in that year. This is now an on-going study, which it is hoped will not only show survival and rates of disability but also identify factors at birth, which could give an indication as to the long-term outcome for the survivors.

The latest information is that of all babies born at 25 weeks gestation that survive to six years 60 per cent. are either not disabled or have a mild disability and 40 per cent. will have moderate to severe disability.