Baby born 19 weeks early defies the odds and amazes doctors

Michelle Butler was 21 weeks pregnant with twins – a boy and a girl – when she experienced contractions. As her sister drove her to the...


Michelle Butler was 21 weeks pregnant with twins – a boy and a girl – when she experienced contractions.

As her sister drove her to the hospital, Mrs. Butler prayed that they would stop.

But the contractions persisted and on July 5, 2020, around 1 p.m., babies, C’Asya Zy-Nell and Curtis Zy-Keith Means, were born. She was told that infants, who each weighed less than a pound, had less than a 1% chance of survival. They were quickly placed on fans.

C’Asya passed away less than a day later. Ms Butler, 35, said she had held her, prayed for her and told her she loved him.

But Curtis held on. He was trying to breathe on his own and his heart rate was improving, showing a resilience that shocked longtime nurses and doctors at the University of Alabama Birmingham.

“He was hitting on the first breath,” said Dr Brian Sims, a neonatologist at the hospital who treated Curtis. “He just showed he was going to be a strong, strong guy from day one.”

Curtis was released in April, after 275 days in the neonatal intensive care unit. Wednesday, Guinness World Records named Curtis, who was born 132 days earlier, the world’s most premature baby to live to her first birthday. He is now 16 months old.

Babies born prematurely rarely live longer than a day, Dr Sims said.

“The truth is, no baby has survived this age,” he said. “We say less than 1%, but it’s really closer to zero.”

Curtis’ early birth reflects the persistently high incidence of preterm births in the United States, where the annual rate of preterm births hovers about 10 percent, according to the March of Dimes. In Alabama, the rate was 12.5% ​​in 2019, according to the organization.

Curtis was born a month after the previous record holder, Richard hutchinson, who was born in Minneapolis after just 21 weeks and two days of gestation.

The risk of preterm birth is even higher for black women, who are more than 50% more likely than white women to give birth early, according to the Population Reference Bureau.

A multitude of factors can contribute to preterm births, including the mother’s age and income, her health, and access to antenatal care. Access to contraception can play a role. Women who have rapidly succeeding pregnancies are also at risk of giving birth prematurely, said Bruce Bekkar, a gynecologist and obstetrician who chairs the Public Health Advisory Council for the Climate Action Campaign in San Diego.

Climate change could make the problem worse, according to a 2020 study that examined over 32 million births in the United States and found that pregnant women exposed to high temperatures or air pollution were more likely to have premature, underweight or stillbirths.

It is too early to conclude how important climate change is in low birth weight and premature births, said Dr Bekkar, one of the study’s authors. Study 2020. But the evidence that this is an important factor is compelling, he said, noting that the number of preterm births fell by at least 20 percent in California in areas where fossil fuel plants have closed.

Other events caused at least in part by climate change, such as the increasing number of wildfires in the western United States and the increasing frequency and intensity of heat waves, have been associated with preterm births. .

“It’s going to get worse,” Dr Bekkar said. Climate change “will continue to put increasing pressure on premature birth rates.”

Dr Sims said it was not clear why Ms Butler went into labor early. She had access to neonatal care and saw a doctor regularly, he said.

Credit…Michelle Butler / University of Alabama at Birmingham University Relations, via Associated Press

Ms Butler said her cervix began to open shortly before the birth. She underwent surgery at UAB Hospital to shut it down and was released from the hospital on July 4. Her sister was driving her home on very bumpy roads when she started to experience contractions, Ms Butler said.

She said when her daughter died she had little time to grieve, knowing that Curtis was still trying to survive.

“I had to pull myself together and be strong for him,” Ms. Butler said. Doctors told her that with a baby born so early, they should “take it day by day, hour by hour.”

“It was a roller coaster,” Ms. Butler said. “He’s had his good days and his bad days, for sure.”

Ms Butler, who also has a 7-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son, drove 90 minutes several days a week from her home in Greene County, Alabama, to visit Curtis in the hospital.

The nurses showed him how to feed him, change him and keep his feeding tube clean.

When he was stable enough, he was placed on his mother’s chest for skin-to-skin contact, hospital nurse Sumita Gray said. regional neonatal intensive care unit.

Ms Butler balanced hospital visits with her job at a catfish processing plant. Two weeks before Curtis was released, Ms Butler quit her job, knowing she would need to spend more time with the baby.

Ms Gray said she was delighted when she saw him recently, when the doctors and nurses who treated Curtis gathered with him and Ms Butler to present them with the Guinness World Records plaque.

“He looked great,” she said. “He was roly-poly.”

Curtis still relies on a feeding tube and nasal cannula, which help him supplement his oxygen. He needs speech therapy and physiotherapy, Ms Butler said. But doctors said they were happy with his progress.

“It’s very interactive,” Dr. Sims said. “He laughs, he has an attitude. All the things that you would expect from a baby so far he does these things.

Ms Butler said Curtis, who now weighs 18 pounds, 9 ounces, sleeps through the night and rarely complains.

“He’s a happy baby,” she said. “He’s not a crybaby.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Baby born 19 weeks early defies the odds and amazes doctors
Baby born 19 weeks early defies the odds and amazes doctors
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