Premature Baby Girl Born at 23 Weeks and Weighing Just 20 Ounces Heads Home, She’s a “Little Miracle”

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 15, 2022   |   7:16PM   |   Washington, DC

If there is any such thing as a “little” miracle, Valentina Alvarado is it.

The California baby girl was born prematurely, weighing just 1 pound, 4 ounces last September, CBN News reports. Now, she is thriving at home with her family.

“She is honestly just a little miracle,” her mother, Gaby Alvarado, said during a recent news conference. “If she can fight this hard for her life and overcome so much when she is so small, there is nothing the rest of us can’t do.”

Alvarado gave birth to her daughter on Sept. 4 at the Kaiser Permanente San Leandro Medical Center in California, according to KNTV News. She was only 23 weeks pregnant at the time.

Not too long ago, babies born before 24 weeks were not considered viable, but advances in medical technology have pushed back viability to about 22 weeks. A January study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 55 percent of premature babies born at 23 weeks survived with treatment, KNTV reports.

Valentina spent months in the hospital receiving care from a dedicated team of doctors and nurses, and, in January, Gaby and her husband, Jesús, finally were allowed to take their daughter home, according to the report. Gaby Alvarado said her daughter now weighs 11 pounds and is thriving.

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Decades ago, viability used to be about 28 weeks of pregnancy, then it moved backward to 24. Now that point has shifted to even earlier, and babies at 21 weeks and 22 weeks are surviving.

In November, Guinness World Records recognized an Alabama boy who was born at 21 weeks gestation as the youngest premature baby to survive. Curtis Means was born weighing 14.8 ounces at 21 weeks and one day in July 2020. In 2017, the journal Pediatrics highlighted the story of another girl who survived after being born at 21 weeks and four days of pregnancy.

Despite growing medical evidence, some hospitals still refuse to, or do not have the capability to, provide life-saving treatment to premature babies born before 24 weeks. A 2015 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that, although a growing number of premature infants are surviving at 22 weeks of pregnancy, some hospitals deny them life-saving medical care based on assumptions about the babies’ future quality of life.

Twenty Two Matters keeps a running list of hospitals confirmed to have saved babies born at 21 weeks to 22 weeks of pregnancy.