A baby girl born prematurely after only 24 weeks of gestation (instead of the normal 40 weeks) is going home with her parents instead of having to lie in the neonatal intensive care unit.
The reason for the extraordinary situation is that she is able to breathe on her own without a respirator.
Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center reported on Tuesday that the baby made history. Although she weighed only 610 grams three months ago and was born 16 weeks before term, she can now go home. Babies at such a gestational age are on the border between being able to live with ventilation or not being able to survive. But the baby started to cry when she was born and didn’t need help breathing. An ultrasound of her brain was normal.
During her 12 weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit, she developed no infections or complications.
“This is an extremely rare case,” said Dr. Reuven Bromiker, a senior doctor in the neonatal and premature baby department. “Ten years ago, the chances of such a baby to survive were lower than 20 percent. A combination of the accumulated know-how and among the most advanced equipment in the country enables us to have impressive accomplishments. But such a case of such a premature baby who reaches normal weight without respiration – this we have never seen,” he exclaimed.
The new premature baby unit in the Jerusalem hospital, opened just a few months ago, is the largest in the country, with 70 tiny beds and incubators.
Meanwhile, Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot has reported a “baby boom” of premature babies born at up to 36 weeks of gestation during Operation Protective Edge. This is a 70% increase in premature births compared to normal times.
Dr. Roni Levy, head of the delivery rooms and obstetrical emergency room at Kaplan, said that the fetus can feel its mother’s stress while in the womb, sending signals for an early delivery. The unexpected larger number of premature deliveries meant that extra medical staffers have to be brought in to work around the clock. Although there has been no scientific research on premature births of babies whose mothers are exposed to rocket fire, he said he has no doubt this was the cause.