January 21, 2012 in Nation/World

Extra-small baby sent home

Raquel Maria Dillon Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Haydee Ibarra, 22, covers her daughter, Melinda Star Guido, as they leave the hospital in Los Angeles on Friday.
(Full-size photo)

LOS ANGELES – One of the world’s smallest surviving babies was discharged Friday from the hospital where she spent nearly five months in an incubator – but not before getting the Hollywood treatment.

Wearing a pink knit hat and wrapped in a pink princess blanket, Melinda Star Guido was greeted by a mob of television cameras and news photographers outside the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

“I’m just happy that she’s doing well,” said her 22-year-old mother, Haydee Ibarra. “I’m happy that I’m finally going to take her home … I’m just grateful.”

Melinda was born Aug. 30 weighing just 9 1/2 ounces, less than a can of soda. She was so tiny that she fit into her doctor’s hand. Melinda is believed to be the world’s third-smallest surviving baby and second smallest in the U.S.

Now weighing 4 1/2 pounds and breathing through an oxygen tube as a precaution, doctors said Melinda has made enough progress to go home. Her brain scan was normal and her eyes were developing well. She also passed a hearing test and a car seat test that’s required of premature babies before discharge.

It’s too early to know how she will do developmentally and physically, but doctors planned to monitor her for the next six years.

“I am cautiously optimistic that the baby will do well, but again there is no guarantee,” said Dr. Rangasamy Ramanathan, who oversees preemies at the hospital.

Most babies that small don’t survive even with advanced medical care. About 7,500 babies are born each year in the U.S. weighing less than 1 pound; about 10 percent survive.

Melinda has come a long way since being delivered by cesarean section at 24 weeks after her mother developed high blood pressure during pregnancy, which can be dangerous for mother and fetus.

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