February 19, 2007
World’s Youngest ‘Miracle Baby’ Beats the Odds
The world's youngest gestational-age baby, born at 21 weeks and six days, has survived after nearly four months at Baptist Children's Hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Miami, FL. She is going home tomorrow.
Amillia Sonja Taylor was born on Oct. 24, 2006 at Baptist Hospital of Miami. She weighed just under 10 ounces and measured 9.5 inches in length, slightly longer than a ballpoint pen.
Amillia is healthy and thriving, her doctors said, and is well enough to be cared for by her parents at home.
"I'm still in amazement," said Sonja Taylor, Amillia's mother. "It was hard to imagine she would get this far. But now she is beginning to look like a real baby. Even though she's only four pounds, she looks plump to me."
Amillia's survival, described by her doctors and parents as miraculous, is considered a new world record for a baby at this gestational age, according to the University of Iowa's national registry for the tiniest babies. There is no known baby born at less than 23 weeks that has survived. Amillia was also the world's fourth smallest baby.
"She's truly a miracle baby," said William Smalling, M.D., neonatologist, Baptist Children's Hospital.
Smalling and other doctors who helped see Amillia through the past few months said caring for her was like charting new territory.
"We didn't even know what a normal blood pressure is for a baby this small," Smalling said.
Amillia's parents said faith got them through the last few months with the help of a dedicated team of doctors, nurses and other clinical professionals.
"I put my faith in God," said Amillia's father, Eddie Taylor. I didn't worry a lot. I just made sure to get here to be at her side."
"She had great doctors, nurses, therapists and social workers," the mother said. "The whole team at Baptist Children's Hospital did their all for our baby. Everyone was there to support us, so I knew she was coming home."
Paul Fassbach, M.D., neonatologist, Baptist Children's Hospital, said it's important for expectant parents to know that Amillia's case is exceptional.
"We don't want people to think that we're establishing a new trend," Fassbach said, "But you never know. Sometimes when many things fall into place, this can happen."
Amillia was delivered via C-section after attempts to delay a premature delivery failed. She was breathing without assistance at birth and even made several attempts to cry. Due to this level of fetal development, doctors believed that she was closer to 23 weeks in gestational age when she was born.
Because Amillia was conceived by in vitro fertilization, it was possible to pinpoint her exact gestational age. Doctors learned that Amillia was in fact a "miracle baby" after reviewing the mother's in vitro fertilization records.
A full-term pregnancy is 37-40 weeks. The American Association of Pediatrics indicates that babies born at less than 23 weeks of age and 400 grams in weight are not considered viable. The mortality rate for infants born at 23 weeks is 70 percent, according to the National Institutes of Health.
About 500,000 infants are born prematurely each year.
"It may be that we need to reconsider our standard for viability in light of Amillia's case. Over the years, the technology that we have available to save these premature babies has improved dramatically. Today, we can save babies that would have never survived 10 years ago," Smalling said.
More than 350 babies are cared for each year in the NICU at Baptist Children's Hospital. The University of Iowa Health Care's Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, maintains a national registry for the world's tiniest babies. For more information, log on to http://www.medicine.uiowa.edu/tiniestbabies/.