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A look at the world's smallest preterm babies

Amazing as it sounds - and thanks to advanced medical technology and neonatal care - there are children out there who weighed less than a can of cola at birth. Yesterday, ran a feature highlighting two of the world's smallest surviving babies (who each weighed in under 10 ounces at birth), reporting that "both micropreemies have reached appropriate developmental milestones in both motor and language skills. [One] is a first-grader, and [another] is an honors student at Augustana College in Rockland, Ill."

A case report that examines the girls' outcomes was just published in Pediatrics, and the lead author warns that the preemies' stories "should not be interpreted as the norm." Indeed, as this article emphasizes, numerous complications and health risks face premature babies - and many, even ones larger than these girls, don't wind up surviving:

"It's incredibly wonderful how well these babies did," says [Scott Berns, MD, a senior vice president at the March of Dimes.] "But we're still talking about a huge epidemic in this country where more than half a million babies are born each year preterm."

It's appropriate, then, that researchers are focusing efforts on understanding and preventing preterm birth. Earlier this year, the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford University School of Medicine opened with a goal of doing just that.

Previously: New research center aims to understand premature birth
Photo by Hudsonthego

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