World's smallest surviving baby boy goes home healthy
28 February 2019
The little boy now weighs a healthy 3.2kg. Image: Keio University Hospital
He weighed just more than a pack of butter
A baby boy, thought to be the smallest ever to survive, has finally been allowed home after five months in hospital.
The unnamed little boy weighed only 268g (9.45oz) when he was born at 24 weeks at Tokyo's Keio University Hospital.
He was born via emergency C-section in August last year, when he failed to grow during the pregnancy and experts feared his life was in danger. He was so small he could fit into a pair of cupped hands, and his skin was so thin that his ribcage was clearly visible.
After five months in neonatal care, he now weighs 3.2kilograms - just over 7 pounds - more than 12 times his original birth weight. He was allowed home last week, two months after his due date.
According to a database of tiny babies kept by the University of Iowa, the smallest baby ever to survive was a girl born in Germany in 2015 who weighed just 252g. Girls born prematurely have a better survival rate than boys - something which may be to do with the development of the lungs.
More babies surviving before abortion limit
Although the little boy is the smallest ever to survive, he is not the youngest. He was born at 24 weeks (the limit for most abortions in the UK), but babies have been known to survive at 22 weeks, and even younger. Prof John Wyatt, an Emeritus Professor of Neonatal Paediatrics, told a SPUC conference that the youngest "preemie" he ever cared for was born at 21 weeks and 6 days.
In the unit Prof Wyatt worked at, the survival rate of babies born at 23 weeks gestation is now approaching 50%, and a 2017 study found that more babies born between 22 and 24 weeks are surviving, and with less neurological problems.
As for the little boy in Tokyo, "I can only say I’m happy that he has grown this big because honestly, I wasn’t sure he could survive," the boy’s mother said, according to the hospital.
Dr Takeshi Arimitsu, who treated him, told the BBC that he wanted to show that "there is a possibility that babies will be able to leave the hospital in good health, even though they are born small."
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