Diss mum calls for review of premature baby guidelines

Charlie Allen is a typical five-year-old who loves playing football, cycling, and Horrid Henry stories.

But unlike other children in his class at school, the little boy spent the first five months of his life in hospital after being born four months early.

When he was first delivered into the world, Charlie weighed just 1lb 7oz and fitted into the palm of his mother's hand after being born at 23 weeks.

But the premature baby has grown into a happy, healthy boy and is preparing for the start of his second year at school next month after defying the medical odds.

His mother, Emma Allen, of Diss, said that her son was living proof that health chiefs should review current guidelines that mean some babies born before 24 weeks are not resuscitated by hospital staff.

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The 31-year-old had marked August 23 2006 in her calendar as the due date for her twins, but went into early labour and gave birth to Charlie and Jack at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on April 27.

Jack, who weighed 1lb 4oz, died of an infection 11 days after his birth.

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However, his brother fought on after a series of operations to fix a perforated bowel, a procedure to close a heart duct, and laser treatment on his eyes. Since leaving hospital, Charlie, who has regular check-ups, has not suffered any other medical complications.

Mrs Allen, who is now helping to raise awareness and funds for Bliss, a charity that helps premature babies and their parents, said there needed to be a change in medical guidelines, which meant that some hospitals do not resuscitate babies born before 24 weeks. 'I believe it is so wrong to not give a baby a chance at 23 weeks. I know it costs money to keep a 23 week old baby alive, but the parents should be given the option and it gives the baby a chance. I have still got one of my babies and I would not change him for the world and I am so grateful for that,' she said.

Charlie attends a development clinic every 6 months and has his eyes checked every four months. He is due to start Year 1 at Roydon Primary School next month.

'He is behind with his development, but he is catching up and is have one-on-one coaching at school. He is probably the smallest in his age group, but he is coming on really well and he does all the things five-year-old boys do,' she said.

Mrs Allen added that she was not aware of Bliss before the birth of her twins, but she would continue to raise money for the 'fantastic' charity, which is dedicated to improving the survival and long-term quality of life for babies born too soon.


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