Premature Baby Born at 22 Weeks Heads Home From Hospital

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Feb 23, 2021   |   8:21PM   |   Dublin, Ireland

Baby Sofia Viktoria Birina was allowed to go home from the hospital on Feb. 10, nine days after her due date.

But the milestone was especially significant for the Scottish baby and her parents after she was born 18 weeks prematurely on Oct. 2, 2020, the UK news site RTE reports.

Sofia weighed 1.1 pounds at birth after she spent just 22 weeks in her mother’s womb, according to the report. In the UK, abortions are legal up to 24 weeks without restriction.

Her parents, Inars and Egija Birina, said the doctors put their daughter’s chance of survival at just 10 percent. She was born at University Hospital Wishaw in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, the report states.

“Sofia was literally the size of a hand, so fragile and small and her skin was see-through,” Egija Birina said. “I had to wait a week to hold her for the first time because she was so fragile. Once I was able to hold her, they couldn’t get her out of my hands.”

For four months, baby Sofia faced numerous complications due to her premature birth. Because her lungs were so underdeveloped, she spent time on a ventilator, her parents said. She also suffered brain bleeds and infections as well as problems with her eyes, they said.

Now at home, Sofia still has an oxygen tube to help her breathe, but her mother said “everything is moving in the right direction.”

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More premature babies are surviving and thriving thanks to modern medicine.

The earliest known premature baby to survive outside the womb was born at 21 weeks and four days of pregnancy. In 2017, the journal Pediatrics highlighted the girl’s survival story. The smallest recorded surviving baby weighed less than 9 ounces at birth.

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that more premature infants are surviving at 22 weeks of pregnancy. This and other research recently prompted the British Association of Medicine to issue new guidelines encouraging medical treatment for babies born at 22 weeks of pregnancy. Previously, the guidelines did not recommend treatment until 24 weeks.