Panorama: Miracle baby grows up
BBC One, Wednesday, 22 September 2004 at 21:00 BST and Tuesday 28 September at 02:55 BST on BBC One
Panorama has been given exclusive access to the largest ever study of extremely premature babies born at less than 26 weeks gestation.
These are the so called 'miracle babies' who owe their lives to modern neonatal intensive care.
Every year thousands of babies are born prematurely in the UK. The very smallest - especially those born at less than 26 weeks - can only survive with the help of intensive care.
This new research, as yet unpublished, raises crucial and emotive questions about how far the boundaries of science and technology should continue to be pushed and how far should doctors go to resuscitate babies born at the limits of viability.
The study followed up all premature babies born alive at less than 26 weeks gestation in Britain during 1995.
The researchers - who include some of Britain's leading neonatologists - have given Panorama unique access.
The findings reveal how the children had developed by the age of six, how many have physical or learning disabilities and how many grew up without disability.
Panorama has also been given exclusive access to children and their families who took part in the study who share their stories in the programme.
Some parents are grateful to have a child whatever the outcome. However others have said, there have been times when they wondered whether it might have been better to allow their babies to die.
Reporter: Sarah Barclay
Producer: Richard Grange
Assistant Producers: Patrick Barrie, Janette Ballard
Editor: Mike Robinson
Deputy Editors: Andrew Bell, Frank Simmonds