Melinda Star Guido was born weighing only nine-and-a-half ounces. She is one of the smallest babies that was ever born in the entire world, and the second smallest baby to be born in the United States. She is surviving, growing, and expected to be able to go home by New Year’s.
At birth, Melinda weighed less than a can of soda. She was small enough to fit into the palm of her doctor’s hand. She was born 24 weeks premature because there was a problem with the placenta. Due to that problem, Melinda wasn’t able to get enough nutrition, blood, and oxygen while in the womb. Her mother had high blood pressure, which can cause problems for both the mother and the developing baby.
Doctors were aware that Melinda would weigh less than a pound, but were still surprised by how fragile and tiny she was. In general, preemies are small, but few were as small as Melinda. Any infant that is born before 37 weeks is considered to be a preemie.
Since birth, she has been in an incubator in the neonatal intensive care unit in Southern California, attended by nurses and her mother. This NICU is located in the Los Angeles County- USC Medical Center. Right now, Melinda can breathe on her own, but is still using an oxygen tube as a precaution. She can grip her mother’s finger. She has been growing, and now weighs four pounds.
In general, babies who were born extremely prematurely tend to have some developmental delays. Preemies also run the risk of having certain types of impairments, such as blindness, deafness, or cerebral palsy.
A study released in September of 2011 showed that kindergarteners who were preemies are more likely to have learning disabilities than their peers, who were born full term, are likely to have. A recent study shows that preemies have a higher risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) than do babies who were born full term.
However, this doesn’t mean that every single preemie will have all, or any, of these types of problems. There are some success stories as well. It is too early to tell if Melinda has any of the health problems or disorders that tend to happen to preemies. Right now, she is not only surviving, but thriving. She won’t be home for Christmas, but will get to go home sometime after New Year’s. That is pretty amazing for a baby that was smaller than a soda can at birth.
Image by Like_the_Grand_Canyon on Flickr