When a Micropreemie Grows Up
As they grow up, extremely low-birth-weight infants have a much higher tendency to suffer from a multitude of health issues. Impaired vision, hearing, and speaking. Chronic pain. Difficulty walking. Severe limitations in cognition, sensation and self-care.
But when McMaster University’s Dr. Saroj Saigal asked these former micropreemies (or, in cases of severe handicap, their parents) to rate their health-related quality of life as adolescents, 71% gave their health-related quality of life a grade of A+, or 95% or better.*
Similarly, among a control group of healthy adolescents who were born at average birth-weights, 73% gave their health-related quality of life an A+.
Meaning that, despite the chronic health issues many of them face, the majority of these former micropreemies feel extremely satisfied with their quality of life. Nearly just as satisfied as healthier children.
And I thought this was quite extraordinary, but could not figure out why this would be true…
And then I thought of something.
Your average healthy person doesn’t feel profoundly grateful to be alive. Or profoundly grateful for a healthy body.
But these micropreemies, these miracle babies, will know for their whole lives that there were many other premature babies like them who did NOT survive the Neonatal ICU.
So even when these grown micropreemies face health challenges in life, they are able to feel grateful for what they do have.
They have difficulty walking, but their eyes work great.
They are blind, but their kidneys and lungs are amazing.
They need daily dialysis, but b”H, one of the world’s leading nephrologists works right downtown.
These kids learned that they cannot take anything for granted…
And that, I think, is a precious gift of an insight that I would love to grant to every child and human being and JewishMOM (including this one).
Photo courtesy of Flickr.com user Rima R