A baby girl in Texas appears to be making medical history by surviving after being born just 21 weeks into gestation. Infants at this level of development are not expected to survive outside the womb, but the child’s mother insisted that her baby be resuscitated.
Courtney Stensrud, 35, gave birth three years ago to the premature infant, whose name she has withheld. Now, doctors believe that the child may be the most premature surviving baby ever reported, Today reports.
Stensrud’s daughter means that doctors can no longer say with certainty that preemies born at 21 weeks are sure to die. However, mortality “remains highly probable,” according to Dr. Kaashif Ahmad, a MEDNAX-affiliated neonatologist at the Pediatrix Medical Group of San Antonio.
Stensrud said that her child is “doing great” and has no health issues or disabilities. She said,
I feel blessed that we were given this little miracle baby.
Ahmad and Stensrud met in the delivery room of a hospital in San Antonio minutes after the latter had given birth in July. The baby, who was due in November, weighed just 14.5 ounces. Stensrud said, “It was shocking to see a living, breathing person that small.” She went into early labor after a premature rupture of membranes, along with chorioamnionitis, an infection of the placenta and the amniotic fluid.
When Ahmad found out about the baby’s condition, he told Stensrud about the baby’s chances of survival and subsequent consequences, including possible cerebral palsy, difficulty in locomotion and even vision and learning disabilities. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that doctors usually recommend against trying to resuscitate such premature babies.
However, Stensrud made the decision to try. “As he was basically telling me there was nothing they could do, I said, ‘Will you try?” she said. Ahmed answered that there were no guarantees, but that he would do what he could.
Doctors clamped the child’s umbilical cord, placed her under an overhead warmer and inserted a breathing tube into her airway. The baby then spent four months in the neonatal intensive care unit and went home in November 2014.
She is “happy, full of energy and full of life,” and did well in her motor and language skills evaluations, compared to children her age. Stensrud said, “The reason I’m doing these interviews — it’s not for me, it’s not for my daughter. It’s for that mother in antepartum who is frantically searching online — that she will have a little bit of hope and faith that she can have the same outcome.”
The case was published in the journal Pediatrics.