World's Tiniest Premature Babies Doing Well

Washington, Dec 12 (IANS): In 1989, Madeline Mann became the world's tiniest surviving baby after birth at the Loyola University Medical Centre (LUMC). She weighed 280 grams, just about the size of an iPhone.

In 2004, Rumaisa Rahmam set a Guinness World Record after birth at Loyola, weighing just 260 grams. Both Madeline and Rumaisa now have normal cognitive development.

Rumaisa remains the world's smallest surviving baby, and Madeline now is the world's fourth smallest surviving baby, according to a registry kept by the University of Iowa Children's Hospital, the journal Paediatrics reports.

Rumaisa, 7, is now a first grader and Madeline, 22, is an honours student at Augustana College in Rock Island, II. But they both remain small for their ages.

Rumaisa and Madeline are the smallest and second smallest surviving babies born in the US. And Rumaisa and her twin sister, Hiba, are the world's smallest surviving twins, according to a Loyola statement.

Of the 85 smallest surviving babies in the US, three were born at Loyola and five others were cared for by physicians trained at Loyola.

Jonathan Muraskas, professor in paediatrics and obstetrics & gynaecology at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, and colleagues caution that successful outcomes such as Madeline and Rumaisa are not necessarily typical.

Many extremely low-birth-weight preemies either do not survive or grow up with severe, lifelong disabilities such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation and blindness.

Comparing other micro-premature babies with Madeline and Rumaisa could "propagate false expectations for families, caregivers and the medico-legal community alike", Muraskas and colleagues wrote.

Madeline and Rumaisa had several advantages. Female preemies tend to do better than males. They had relatively long gestational ages for their birthweights. And their mothers were given steroids before birth, which helped their lungs and brains mature more quickly.

During their pregnancies, Madeline's and Rumaisa's mothers experienced preeclampsia - pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. There was decreased blood flow through the placenta which restricted the babies' growth.

Madeline was born at 26 weeks, six days, and Rumaisa was born at 25 weeks, six days. Under normal conditions, it would take a foetus just 18 weeks to reach their birthweights.

They both have met developmental milestones at appropriate ages.


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