CHICAGO – A premature infant believed to be the smallest baby ever to survive was called ‘a great blessing’ Tuesday by her mother, who is preparing to take the little girl and her twin sister home from the hospital.
The baby, named Rumaisa, weighed 244 grams (8.6 ounces) – less than a can of soda – when she was delivered by Caesarean section Sept. 19 at Loyola University Medical Center. That is 37 grams (1.3 ounces) smaller than the previous record holder, who was born at the same the hospital in 1989, according to hospital spokeswoman Sandra Martinez.
Rumaisa, her twin, Hiba, and their Indian-born parents were introduced Tuesday at a news conference at the hospital in suburban Maywood. The girls were bundled in identical striped blankets.
Their mother, Mahajabeen Shaik, said she didn’t ‘have the words to say how thankful I was’ when she first got to hold her children in their second month.
‘It’s a blessing, it’s a great blessing,’ she said.
Hospital officials said they are doing so well that Hiba, who weighed 563 grams (1 pound and 4 ounces) at birth, could be released from the hospital by the end of this month, with Rumaisa following as early as the first week of January.
Rumaisa now weighs 1.18 kilograms (2 pounds, 10 ounces). Her twin weighs 2.25 kilograms (5 pounds).
‘They’re maintaining their temperature; they don’t need an incubator. They’re taking their bottles,’ said Dr. William MacMillan. ‘They’re normal babies.’
Shaik, 23, developed pre-eclampsia, a disorder characterized by high blood pressure and other problems, during pregnancy. The condition endangered Rumaisa and her mother, prompting a C-section at 26 weeks. Normal gestation is 40 weeks.
Dr. Jonathan Muraskas, a professor of neonatal-perinatal medicine, said several factors may have improved the babies’ chances of survival. Babies born before 23 weeks do not have fully developed lungs and are usually not viable, but those born before the 25th week can survive.
Muraskas said girls are also more likely to survive than boys when born at less than 368.5 grams (13 ounces), and the twins could have been helped by their mother’s health problems.