HC Deb 05 July 1979 vol 969 c725W
Mr. Alton

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the earliest known point during the gestation period for a child to leave its mother's womb and to survive independently of its mother.

Dr. Vaughan

I am advised that the earliest period of gestation at which an infant has survived in this country is 24 weeks. However, survival at this early stage is most unusual and this case is one of only two well documented cases known to the Department where infants born before the 26th week of gestation have survived. Birthweight is also critical in that no infant weighing less than 500 grammes—about 1 lb.1½oz.—has yet survived. Claims have been made that infants of less than 24 weeks' gestation have lived independently of their mothers for short periods but I understand that there is no authenticated case of continued survival of such an extremely premature infant.