An Uncertain Road

KBIA health reporter Rebecca Smith takes a look at the reality of being born extremely premature and the possible long-term complications four years, seven years and twelve years down the road.

Carolyn Allred

Being born prematurely has many immediate consequences for infants – difficulty breathing, bleeding in the brain, and other issues that can affect long-term development. So if being born preterm affects young children post infancy, does it still affect people as they near adolescence?

Jacob Allred was born extremely premature at 25 weeks and 5 days weighing just one pound, 13 ounces. He is now 12 years old, and still struggles with health issues both physical and developmental that are a result of his premature birth.

His parents, Carolyn and Vince, have been on the “roller coaster” of prematurity since the day Jacob was born - one step forward followed by five steps back. They are being constantly surprised by new issues that arise, but, at 12, things are going well and they are all looking forward to Jake’s future. 


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Premature Birth affects about one in 10 infants in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pre-term birth is a major factor in infant mortality and is also one of the leading causes of long-term neurological disabilities in children.

There is a huge range of potential outcomes for premature infants and no two babies have the same trajectory – just like the Mondy twins.

Cauy and Skylee were born at just 24 weeks and one day. Cauy weighed one pound, six ounces and Skylee weighed one pound, five ounces. Though they started life at the exact same place, Skylee with practically no repercussions from their premature birth while complications have left Cauy with a cerebral palsy diagnosis. 


Rebecca Smith / KBIA

We’ve all seen the stories: "Premature baby goes home after spending 100-something days in the hospital," but what happens next? Do babies born pre-term end up just like their full-term counterparts or are there lasting health complications resulting from prematurity?

To explore this questions, I spoke with David Beversdorf and his son William, a four-year-old that was born at 22 weeks and one day and weighed just one pound, three ounces. William was considered extremely premature, and is one of the youngest babies to have survived their birth and their time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.