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Tiny twin miracles

Born weighing 599 gm and 694 gm, the Mehra (name changed) twins were barely larger than a human hand at birth on January 21. They weighed less than one-fourth of the normal birth weight of 3 kgs because they arrived unexpectedly, three months early. The twins — the older boy weighing 599 gm and girl, 694 gm — have not only survived but have left for their Vasant Kunj home from Delhi’s Fortis La Femme in the pink of health last week. Sanchita Sharma reports.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2009 22:56 IST
Sanchita Sharma

Little wonder

Amillia Taylor, now two, is the world’s tiniest and most premature living baby. She was born after 21 weeks and six days of gestation.

When she was born on October 24 in 2006 at Baptist Children’s Hospital in Miami, US, Amillia weighed just 283 gm and measured 240 cm, slightly longer than a ballpoint pen.

No baby born at less than 23 weeks was previously known to survive, reports the University of Iowa, which keeps a record of the world’s tiniest babies.

Born weighing 599 gm and 694 gm, the Mehra (name changed) twins were barely larger than a human hand at birth on January 21. They weighed less than one-fourth of the normal birth weight of 3 kgs because they arrived unexpectedly, three months earlier than when they were supposed to, on April 30.

The babies were born after 25 weeks and four days of gestation. Full-term babies usually come after 38 to 40 weeks.

The twins — the older boy weighing 599 gm and girl, 694 gm — have not only survived but have left for their Vasant Kunj home from Delhi’s Fortis La Femme in the pink of health last week.

Their mother Natasha, 39, (name changed) is thrilled that her babies are feeding well, gaining weight (they now weigh 1.3 kg and 1.36 kg respectively) and crying loudly, indicating healthy lungs. “I had a difficult pregnancy and the twins were born in the second trimester. They were so tiny that I was scared to touch them,” she says.

Fighting infection was the biggest challenge senior neonatologist Dr Raghuram Mallaiah faced when the babies arrived in the neonatal ward. “They were about the size of a human hand. Babies this small have no immunity, so to cut down risk of infection, we took them off the ventilator within 24 hours and put them on non-invasive ventilation,” he said. The twins were, however, given steroids to help their lungs develop naturally and antibiotics for two months to fight infection.

Their extreme prematurity prompted doctors to screen them extensively for development abnormalities. “Three ultrasounds showed everything was normal,” says Dr Mallaiah.

Though the twins are a week older than Baby Jagjit Kaur, India’s earliest recorded birth on June 13, 2008, at Ludhiana’s Satguru Pratap Singh Apollo Hospital, they weighed far less than Kaur, who weighed 850 gm at birth.

“It was a complicated pregnancy from the start but someone had to do it. Births in the 25th week are rare and there is a 50 per cent chance of losing the babies, but we did our best. Now both are as healthy as full-term babies,” said gynaecologist Tripat Chaudhary, who delivered them.

No baby born before 23 weeks has survived, according to the University of Iowa, which keeps a record of the world’s tiniest babies. The only miracle child was Amillia Tayor. (See box)