Over the years, newspapers have reported on the baby that was then regarded as the "smallest preemie." However, thanks to technology and great advances in neonatal medicine, babies keep getting smaller and healthier than ever before. Below is a background on some of the world's smallest preemies, how they are doing today, and what can be expected for their future.
The World's Smallest Baby Born
Babies come in all shapes and sizes, but when one makes his or her world debut at less than 500 grams, the odds are stacked heavily against him or her. However, hospitals all over the United States do see their share of miracle stories, such as Baptist Children's Hospital of Miami, who currently has the bragging rights of nursing the world's smallest preemie to health.
Amillia Sonja Taylor was born in October of 2006 and weighed in at less than 10 ounces. Just 9 ½ inches long, she has been referred to as the "cell phone sized baby" by some, but to her parents, Eddie and Sonja, she is just simply a miracle.
Amillia is not only one of the smallest preemies to survive, she is also one of the youngest. Born at 22 weeks gestation, the typical cut off time of survival is recognized by most physicians to be around 23-25 weeks, which makes this little girl's story even more remarkable. She spent four months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and at the time of her homecoming weighed a "hefty" 4 ½ pounds and was 15 ½ inches long. This still may seem pretty dinky to those who have been unfortunate to welcome healthy 7-9 pound babies into their lives, but to parents of preemies, going home stats often seem gargantuan in relation to where their miracle babies once were.
Many have to overcome obstacles to get to their homecoming day, as did Amillia who struggled with respiratory and digestive issues, as well as a brain hemorrhage. Unbelievably, despite all that, Amillia's doctors are giving her a very hopeful long term prognosis. Like many preemies, Amillia will have some oxygen at home and will be closely monitored by a developmental specialist as she grows and starts out on the track toward a normal and happy childhood. Only time will tell what life holds for this tiny little girl, but her friends and family remain beyond hopeful.
Other Tiny Preemies
Madeline Mann held the record for the smallest baby to survive for several years. Conceived through artificial insemination in 1989, her mother's pre-eclampsia condition required her doctors to do a Caesarean section when Madeline was 27 gestational weeks. She weighed 9.9 ounces and was only 10 inches long.
While Madeline held the record for smallest baby born for several years, that record was broken in September 2004 by Rumaisa Rahman. Weighing in at 8.6 ounces and measuring only 8 inches long, Rahman was born at 25 weeks gestation. Rahman was a twin, and while her sister was larger, weighing 1 pound, 4 ounces, she was still considered dangerously tiny as well. Although both infants were dramatically premature, they were released from the hospital in December and February respectively and deemed generally healthy.
Elora De Bondi is another preemie that is on the record books as one of the world's smallest. Born in Australia in 2007, she was 319 grams and delivered 16 weeks early. Despite doctors telling her family there was no hope for her survival, she is now almost two years old. Though there may still be challenges and issues for Elora down the road, in many ways she is thriving and bringing endless joy to her mother and everyone else who has gotten to meet her.
Kimberly Mueller is yet another miracle story, having been born to a German family, weighing in at just over 10 ounces. She was born at 25 weeks gestation and has overcome many hurdles including blindness, which was corrected with laser surgery.
In 1987, James Elgin Gill was born in Ottawa, Canada. Weighing in at a mere 1 pound, 6 ounces, he was considered the earliest premature baby in the world at the time. He was born at 21 weeks and 5 days, making him 128 days premature. Miraculously, he survived this very early entry into the world.
The Long-Term Future of the Littlest Babies
While many preemies go on to lead lives as if they were born at average size, micro preemies often face a more daunting future. Even for tiny babies born after 28 weeks gestation, the road ahead of them looks bright, especially thanks to the many advances in neonatology, which is the care of infants and still a relatively new medical discipline.
For those born earlier than 28 weeks, unfortunately, many issues often arise. Premature babies are at risk for brain bleeds, which can cause either temporary or permanent damage, as well as eyesight issues from the air provided by a ventilator, which many preemies spend time connected to. Developmental delays are also often common in these little ones, though close specialist follow-ups have increased their odds at being able to catch up to their peers by the age of two.
Science keeps getting better, and parental hopes continue to grow stronger as those born smallest to the world often go on to thrive and achieve great things!