It’s always a bit nerve wracking picking up a newborn baby. They feel so tiny and vulnerable and they can’t even let you know if you’re holding them wrong.
However, a baby has been born who is so tiny, her very existence is a testament to the dedication of medical professionals.
Baby Manushi from Rajasthan, India, was delivered 12 weeks early – with a gestation period of just 28 weeks – and is the smallest surviving baby ever to be born in Asia.
At the time of her birth, Manushi measured a doll-like 8.6 inches in length and was a mere 0.88lb in weight. For reference, this is about the weight of a bar of Cadbury’s chocolate.
Manushi’s difficulties began while she was still in the womb. Her mother Seeta had experienced uncontrollably high blood pressure while pregnant, and the foetus was not receiving enough blood flow.
Manushi had not been breathing when she was delivered by emergency C-section on June 15. Her skin was as thin as paper and her little organs had not yet properly developed.
Her titchy feet were no bigger than her father’s thumbnail. Seriously, just look at your own thumb nail right now and you will get some idea of the scale of this delicate baby.
Dubbed a ‘miracle baby’ by staff at Jivanta Children’s Hospital, medical experts originally believed Manushi had a slight 0.5 per cent chance of survival without brain damage.
According to DNA India, Hospital director at Jivanta Children’s Hospital NICU, Dr Sunil Janged, said:
When the baby was born, we were uncertain of what could happen.
She was struggling to breathe, so was immediately put on advanced respiratory support ventilator to expand her tiny, immature lungs.
She could not be fed adequately due to immaturity of her gut.
We had to start the baby on total parenteral nutrition, which basically means giving all the essential nutrients, such as amino acids, lipids, carbohydrates, minerals, multivitamins and trace elements, directly into blood circulation.
Renowned gynaecologist Dr Vimla Jain told the Deccan Herald:
Usually babies who are born weighing under 500 grams have less chances of survival.
Her survival is rare.
Usually body organs of underweight babies, including lungs, heart, brain, kidneys, intestine, skin and adrenals don’t work properly and need artificial support, hence they can’t survive.
However, it appears the little girl was much tougher than she looked. Despite initial challenges – including her weight dropping during her first days of life – she began taking milk after seven weeks.
Manushi was given blood transfusions and even had her respiratory support switched off temporarily, resulting in her holding her breath while sleeping.
After six months, the pint sized fighter is being discharged from the hospital and is believed to be intellectually normal, despite still weighing a minute 5.2lb. Her eyesight is also said to be normal.
According to the Hindustan Times, former president of the Neonatology Forum of India, Dr Ajay Gambhir, has stated:
We are grateful to Seeta and her family and we appreciate them for setting a new example to the community.
Rajasthan where the girls, still considered a burden, are thrown into the trash immediately after birth or are left in the orphanage.
The couple treated their baby girl who had negligible chance of survival.
Well done to the incredible doctors who never gave up hope on giving a brave little girl a shot at life.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.