mumr-doctMumrikova М.А.


Believing in the most little babies…

Before my working day begins I park my car near a child building of our hospital. It is still early and dark. I see that lights in every window of the building are put out with the exception of the third floor where the resuscitation unit of newborn infants is situated. In this unit preemies, who are born before full-term of pregnancy and have low birth weights, get treatment as well as sick full-term babies.


I will stay in this unit for more than 24 hours to save their lives. I will forget about everything in the world with the exception of these babies. Every time before my working day I think about one question. This question is put very often to me and my colleagues. “Why do you need to save lives of these babies? Many of them will be handicapped persons. Only the strongest infants should survive.” It is surprising that many doctors of different specialties adhere to this opinion.

World Prematurity Awareness Day (November, 17) was established in 2009. On this day parents, families, parents’ groups and activists gather together to raise awareness about prematurity and highlight all the problems associated with it. World Prematurity Awareness Day is celebrated in different countries annually including Russia. In 2010 twelve countries took part in the celebrations.


We see two diametrically opposite opinions. On the one hand, some people appeal not to save such babies; on the other hand, a whole special day (World Prematurity Awareness Day) exists in honor preemies. We, doctors-neonatologists, want to announce our point of view.


First of all, we think that premature delivery is an unnatural process, because a baby has to develop in the mother’s uterus for all the fixed period (37-40 weeks of gestation). A full term newborn baby is ready to a good postnatal adaptation. Moreover, premature delivery is a serious catastrophe. It can be compared with a road accident where are injured persons and doctors have to give aid to them. It is possible that an injured person will be disabled or even lie in a coma. Otherwise, injured persons will recover and regain their health. If a doctor thinks about consequences and choses who has to be saved and who doesn’t, time will be lost and possibly no one will be saved. A similar situation presents with premature delivery. Here we have a serious catastrophe as well when a baby prematurely and drastically changes his or her environment. The preterm infant is not able to survive outside the uterus without medical assistance.

Our task is to protect any at-risk baby. At this critical time we are not focused on the future. The outcomes can be quite different. For illustration, at one hospital a person with a catastrophic leg injury may require amputation, at another hospital, where a vascular surgeon is available, a surgical operation may result in the person’s leg being saved.


The second question but not less important is a cause of premature delivery. There are plenty of them and the most part is unknown. Nevertheless, a woman definitely can avoid one cause of premature delivery. This cause depends on personal decision one or two parents. It is an abortion. It is awful that nowadays some families plan family with the help of such a method. It is similar to drunken driving, because it is also a personal decision and a high risk of the accident, which is created by a person. In New York State, a study involving 40,000 women was conducted. One half of the women in the study had previously had an abortion and the other half had not had an abortion. The study found a strong link between a past abortion and premature delivery in subsequent pregnancies. Premature delivery on the term 33 weeks of gestation was 1.8 times more frequent. The study also determined that complications in subsequent deliveries were 3 times more frequent. Spontaneous death of a fetus increased 1.65 times.

Bernard Natanson, an obstetrician-gynecologist, released a documental film The Silent Scream. In this film he said: “There are several pictures of a child on different stages of the intrauterine growth: on 4, 8, 12, 16, 18, 20 and 28 weeks of gestation. Do you see that any noticeable changes don’t occur with the exception of the growth. 12-week-old child is an absolutely recognizable human being.


A brain of 6-week-old child emits impulses. A heart starts beating at 2.5 weeks of the gestation. William Obstekl, who wrote a textbook for medical students, told that a fetus was a patient as well as her or his mother, and a doctor has to respect the fetus.” The government laws start protecting of a child’s life from 10 weeks of gestation in France, after 12 weeks of gestation in Denmark and after 20 in Sweden. In many countries a life is juristically protected only after birth. Nobel Prize Laureate James Watson suggested protecting a baby’s life starting from fourth day… When does a human being’s life begin? Who is right?

Maybe, French children start being humans after 10 weeks of gestation, little Dane – after 12 weeks of gestation and James Watson’s baby will be a real human being only on the fourth day after his or her birth? Today this scientific fact is unquestionable: the human life starts in the moment of merging of man’s and woman’s cells. In this new cell all the future is founded: his gender, blood group, color of eyes and hair… This living cell needs is food, oxygen and time a protective, nurturing environment. This cell is already a unique person.


A question remains about disabilities. Nowadays neonatologists saving lives of preemies think about quality of their lives, first of all. The treatment and care of the preemies last several months. All the time preemie’s vital functions are supported by several types of apparatuses (incubators, apparatuses of artificial pulmonary ventilation, monitors).

Modern standards of treatment, technological advances, methods and equipment help neonatologist save lives and avoid the serious consequences of prematurity. Nevertheless, a risk to become a handicapped person among preemies is higher than this risk among full-term babies. However, we have to take another view of disability. If I am a skier and a person in an invalid chair moves faster than me along a ski slope, than I will think that he or she is more proficient at skiing than me. Disability is just an adaptation to the environment.


Beethhoven was deaf, Andrea Bocelli is blind…


Stephen William Hawking is a handicapped person. Such a state of affairs didn’t impede him from becoming one of the most brilliant physicist-theorist since Einstein.


How many healthy people cannot stand in one line with these wonderful men? There are plenty of them…


I would like to finish our conversation emphasizing one thought. Of course, emergency will come to a place of the accident and doctors will do everything to save lives. However, people must avoid drunken driving in order they will not able to become a cause of the accident…


Our team of resuscitation specialists has a dream. We want that every child, who is treated at our hospital, would get the full volume of modern medicine. In the resuscitation unit we don’t have the term “tomorrow”. Everything that today you couldn’t do in time can have serious implications for a baby’s life. We believe that our efforts will not be vain. We want that preemies live lives of full-values!