They keep getting tinier and tinier.
Premature babies who, not that long ago, would have been considered non-viable are now surviving and thriving.
Fox News reports a baby girl in Singapore is believed to be the smallest premature baby ever to survive. Kwek Yu Xuan was born weighing just 7.47 ounces and measuring 9.5 inches on June 9, 2020.
Initially, doctors told her parents that her chance of survival was “limited.” But, on Saturday, after 13 months in the hospital, Yu Xuan finally was deemed well enough to go home with her parents, according to the report.
Her mother, Wong Mei Ling, 35, gave birth to her daughter at about 25 weeks of pregnancy in an emergency cesarean section, the report states.
“I didn’t expect to give birth so quickly, and we were very sad that Yu Xuan was born so small,” Mei Ling told the Times. “But due to my condition, we didn’t have a choice. We could just hope that she would continue to grow.”
She said her daughter weighed about the same as a large apple when she was born.
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In a statement, the Singapore National University Hospital celebrated the little girl’s survival.
“We are happy for the little fighter and her family, and proud of the care provided by our team,” the statement read. “Our best wishes to little Yu Xuan as she continues to grow, thrive and beat the odds every day.”
Previously, the smallest recorded surviving baby weighed a little less than 9 ounces at birth. Born in California in December 2018, baby Saybie was deemed well enough to go home five months later.
Modern medical advances are saving younger and smaller premature babies. Viability is a moving line. In the 1970s, babies were considered to be viable at about 28 weeks of pregnancy, but as medicine advanced, the line moved back to 24 weeks and now is about 22 weeks, though some babies are surviving even earlier.
In June, the Guinness Book of World Records declared Richard Scott William Hutchinson, of Wisconsin, the most premature baby ever to survive, CNN reports. In 2020, he was born at 21 weeks gestation – 131 days before his due date – weighing 11.9 ounces, WCCO Minneapolis reports.
In 2017, the journal Pediatrics highlighted the story of another girl who survived after being born at 21 weeks and four days of pregnancy.
Several years ago, a 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.