A HANDFUL OF LIFE

We follow the cases of ‘extreme preemies’ in Japan, France, UK and Germany. Some of them are born at only 22 weeks and weigh less than 500 grams. Find out about current state of neonatology research around the globe.

More and more babies are born too early: 15 million premature births worldwide. Some of them come into this world at only 22 weeks and weigh less than 500 grams: the "extreme preemies”. Not that long ago, few people would have believed that such prematurely born babies stood a chance of survival. Today, survival rates for these tiny beings have increased significantly. Following the cases of four extremely premature babies in Germany, France, Great Britain and Japan, this scientific documentary takes a look at international treatment methods in neonatology. It shows the results of recent brain research, presents a long-term study and also follows the worldwide ethical discussion on when life begins. Globally, doctors have a lot of freedom to decide the age at which a child can be kept alive. While doctors in Japan have been legally required to save lives from 22 weeks since 1995, in China premature babies younger than 28 weeks rarely survive. Within Europe too, there are stark differences. And intensive medical treatment has its price. The care of a premature baby can cost up to € 150,000. For some, this factor, too, should be taken into consideration when a decision is made about when life should begin.

Genre Science / Health
Length 52’ HD
Film by Antje Christ
Production Christ Media for ZDF / ARTE
Original Title Eine Handvoll Leben - Extreme Frühgeburten und ihre Chancen / Grands prématurés - La vie à quel prix ?
Year 2014

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We follow the cases of ‘extreme preemies’ in Japan, France, UK and Germany. Some of them are born at only 22 weeks and weigh less than 500 grams. Find out about current state of neonatology research around the globe.

More and more babies are born too early: 15 million premature births . Some of them come into this world at only 22 weeks and weigh less than 500 grams: the “extreme preemies”. Not that long ago, few people would have believed that such prematurely born babies stood a chance of survival. Today, survival rates for these tiny beings have increased significantly. Following the cases of four extremely premature babies in Germany, France, Great Britain and Japan, this scientific documentary takes a look at international treatment methods in neonatology. It shows the results of recent brain research, presents a long-term study and also follows the worldwide ethical discussion on when life begins. Globally, doctors have a lot of freedom to decide the age at which a child can be kept alive. While doctors in Japan have been legally required to save lives from 22 weeks since 1995, in China premature babies younger than 28 weeks rarely survive. Within Europe too, there are stark differences. And intensive medical treatment has its price. The care of a premature baby can cost up to € 150,000. For some, this factor, too, should be taken into consideration when a decision is made about when life should begin.

Science / Health
Length 52’ HD
Film by Antje Christ
Production Christ Media for ZDF / ARTE, 2014
Original title Eine Handvoll Leben – Extreme Frühgeburten und ihre Chancen
Grands prématurés – La vie à quel prix ?