A little British girl is thriving three years after she was born severely prematurely, weighing about the same as a loaf of bread.
Eastern Daily Press reports Emily Kearey and her twin sister, Sophie, were born 12 weeks early in 2014 after developing a potentially fatal complication in the womb.
Emily, who was born much smaller than Sophie, participated in an experimental drug trial for premature babies, and doctors said the new treatment shows “promising” signs of helping even more very premature babies in the future.
The Essex twins were born in November 2014 by cesarean section after developing twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, according to the report.
Emily weighed 1 pound, 13 ounces, or about the same as a loaf of bread, while Sophie weighed a little more than 3 pounds, the report states.
Soon after Emily arrived, doctors discovered she had “respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), a life-threatening condition that affects many premature babies due to immature lungs and a lack of surfactant – a naturally-occurring substance which coats the tiny lung sacs and prevents the lungs collapsing at the end of each breath,” according to the report.
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Her parents, Dr. Roger and Rachel Kearey, said they agreed to allow Emily to participate in a clinical trial at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital involving a synthetic lung medicine called CH5633.
The treatment was successful, and Emily now is thriving at home with her family.
Thanks to Emily’s and other premature babies’ participation, doctors said the drug is a “promising new treatment” for babies born very prematurely.
Dr. David Sweet, a leading researcher in the study, told the Daily Press:
“Our study paved the way for a much larger study now underway which is continuing to evaluate the effectiveness of CH5633.
“If this larger study confirms it to be an effective treatment, we hope it will eventually be made widely available to treat future premature babies born with breathing difficulties.”
More innovative technologies are being developed to help very premature babies survive and thrive.
In April, researchers published a new study about artificial wombs, which could help more very premature babies to survive in the future. The scientists said the artificial wombs helped premature animal babies to develop normally; they were about the equivalent age of a human baby between 22 weeks and 23 weeks.
Technological advances already are pushing back the point of viability for babies. Over the past few decades, 24 weeks has been considered the point of viability. However, new studies suggest viability now is about 22-23 weeks.
Earlier this year, a study out of Duke University found that an increasing number of babies are surviving at the 23 week mark. The researchers found a “small but significant drop in fatalities for babies born between 23 and 37 weeks gestation,” as well as a decrease in premature babies manifesting with neurophysiological problems, the Daily Mail reported.