Melinda Star Guido, a palm-sized baby was born on August 30, 2011 weighing only a mere 9.5 ounces which is less than a can of soda. Melinda was born at 24 weeks and is believed to be the second smallest baby in the United States and third smallest in the world to survive.
Melinda is now 3 1/2 months old and has spent her early months of life in an incubator in the neonatal intensive care unit in Los Angeles. After the tiny baby was born she was immediately transferred to the NICU where a team of doctors and nurses can keep watch around the clock. Any baby that is born before 37 weeks is considered premature. Melinda Star Guido is kept in an incubator where she is hooked up to a machine to help aid her in her breathing while she gets her nutrition through a feeding tube. Her mother, Ibarra, says her skin feels like plastic because it’s so thin.
During Ibarra’s pregnancy, she suffered from high blood pressure which is dangerous for the mother and baby. During pregnancy there was also a problem with the placenta which is the organ that gives the fetus nutrition. The fetus wasn’t getting proper nutrition, blood or oxygen so Dr’s knew the baby would weigh less than a pound, but weren’t expecting her to be as small as a pop can.
Dr. Rangasamy Ramanathan who oversees premature infants at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center said, “The first few weeks, it was touch and go. None of us thought the baby was going to make it.”
Doctors told Ibarra and her husband Yovani Guido, that even if Melinda did survive, children born extremely premature can have developmental delays and impairments such as blindness, deafness or cerebral palsy.
Pediatrician Dr. Edward Bell of the University of Iowa who keeps an online database of the world’s smallest surviving babies who were less than a pound at birth said, “It takes a lot of good care and a lot of good luck. Most of them don’t survive.”
On the online database, reported by the Associated Press, “The list currently contains 126 babies dating back to 1936. Since submission is voluntary, it does not represent all survivors. Ten babies weighing less than a pound were born last year and survived. Melinda joins three other tiny survivors delivered this year in Berkeley; Seoul, South Korea; and Iowa City, Iowa. All are bigger than Melinda, who is not eligible to be listed until she gets discharged.”
Most of those surviving babies tend to be female because their fetus mature faster than the males do and having better developed lungs and hearts will increase the odds of survival.
Melinda Star Guido will be able to go home as soon as she can take a bottle. Her parents were hoping that would be before Christmas, but it looks like it will be at least another two-weeks before the tiny baby will be discharged.