Nine-inch baby survives, grows up, and goes home with mum

She weighed less than a couple of mobile phones at birth, but now Melinda's made medical history

A baby weighing a mere 9.5oz (270g) – roughly equivalent to two mobile phones – has finally gone home with her mother after spending nearly five months in an incubator.

Melinda Star Guido was delivered 16 weeks early at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center by Caesarean section last summer. At birth, she measured just eight and three-quarter inches long, and was so small she could fit in the palm of her doctor's hand. According to the Global Birth Registry, she is the smallest surviving baby to be born in the United States, and the third-smallest in the world.

Having quadrupled in size since then, now weighing 4.5lbs and breathing through an oxygen tube as a precaution, she has made enough progress to go home. She did so in a blaze of publicity, dressed in a pink knitted hat and wrapped in a pink blanket to face a melee of television cameras, press photographers and her public.

Doctors have said her brain scan was normal and her eyes are developing well. She also passed a hearing test and a car seat test that is required of premature babies before being discharged.

Any infant born before 37 weeks is considered premature, and when a problem with the placenta meant that Melinda arrived just 24 weeks into her mother's pregnancy, it was feared Melinda might not survive, even with advanced medical care.

"I'm just happy that she's doing well", said her mother, 22-year-old Haydee Ibarra. "I'm happy that I'm finally going to take her home. She's a little miracle to me." She may be little, but Melinda packs a strong personality. "She likes to play around a lot and she likes to be goofy. She likes to smile, laugh, she's a really lovable person," Ms Ibarra added.

The baby's father, Yovani Guido, said Ms Ibarra had returned to work as a restaurant cashier in the Granada Hills district of Los Angeles for the months Melinda remained in intensive care, but would now be staying home with their daughter. "She's a fighter. No doubt about that ... I'm looking forward to going out for picnics, spoiling her like any other dad."

Since her birth, Melinda has been treated in the neonatal intensive care unit, where she breathed with the help of a machine and received nutrients through a feeding tube. She was treated for an eye disorder common in premature babies and underwent surgery in November to close an artery. Dr Rangasamy Ramanathan, neonatology chief at the centre, is delighted with her progress, but said that Melinda was fortunate not to suffer more serious complications. "This doesn't happen every day. In my 30 years here ... this is the first time it ever happened that we were able to discharge a baby who weighed less than 400g [at birth]," he said. "We don't expect miracles every day."

It is too early to know how Melinda will fare neurologically and physically, but doctors plan to monitor her regularly for the next six years. After discharge, such extremely premature babies require constant care. Their lungs are often not fully developed and they may need oxygen at home. Infections are common, and even basic activities such as feeding can be challenging. Nevertheless, Dr Ramanathan remains "cautiously optimistic" that the baby will do well, but also emphasising that "there is no guarantee".

The paediatrician Dr Edward Bell, who started and runs the University of Iowa Children's Hospital Tiniest Babies Registry, published a study last year that found many survivors have ongoing health and learning difficulties. Most also remain short and underweight for their age.

There are some rare success stories, however. Rumaisa Rahman, now aged seven, was born at 26 weeks weighing just 9.2oz – the equivalent size of an 18-week-old foetus. He is now a healthy seven-year-old. Another who weighed 9.9oz at birth is now studying psychology at university. Both were born at Loyola University Medical Center in Illinois. About 7,500 babies are born each year in the US weighing less than 1lb and about 10 per cent survive, making Melinda's birth a landmark event. Dr Ramanathan said: "We are hopeful to see many more milestones accomplished in Melinda's development as we follow her care."

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam