The Youngest Surviving Preemie
J.C. Willke, MD
Recently there has been considerable worldwide publicity announcing the birth of “the world’s most premature baby.” Little Amillia Taylor, of Miami, Florida, was born in October, 21 weeks and 6 days after conception. In multiple press reports, we continue to hear that she is the youngest known baby worldwide to survive such an early “premature birth” and that – no baby born before 23 weeks has survived at length.” This little miracle has gone home with her parents and is apparently healthy.
At birth she weighed 10 ounces (284 grams) and was 9.5 inches long (24 centimeters). Further “information” given out is that this may affect the abortion debate because she was younger than the age limit on abortion, which is typically not allowed after 24 weeks. This continues to be repeated even though most of our readers know there is no age limit and that abortion is legal for the full nine months of pregnancy in all 50 states.
Allow me to first join in the rejoicing that this couple has taken their little “miracle” home alive and healthy. I can’t resist however commenting about this situation. In a way, it is like Columbus discovering America long after the Vikings colonized parts of North America, for in fact; she is not the first and not the youngest. As readers of our book, Abortion Questions and Answers (Dr. and Mrs. Willke, 2003) already know, there is quite a track record of other tiny survivors. Let me elaborate.
There are two ways of calculating age. One is “gestational” age, which is calculated from the first day of the last normal menstrual period. In a 28-day month, ovulation and fertilization occurs about day 14. “Fetal” age is calculated from the date of fertilization. So a prototypical, full-term baby is delivered at gestational age of 40 weeks, but at fetal age of 38 weeks. Tiny Amillia Taylor was born at 21 weeks and six days after fertilization, so I will keep using this measurement below.
One other factor is that age and weight, while usually tracking together, are sometimes dissimilar e.g., a full-term, nine-month baby sometimes weighs as little as five or six pounds or as much as ten pounds. Two babies born at five months, while being the same age, might differ in weight by as much as a half a pound (225 gm).
So let’s look at previous births. In my files, I have six cases born at 21 weeks. Their weights range from 16 ounces to 24 ounces (540 – 810 gm).
I have 11 cases of survivors at 20 weeks. Their weights varied from 12 to 22 ounces (339 to 663 gm). There are two cases at 19 weeks including baby Kenya King who weighed 18 ounces (510 gm) and was 10.5 inches (26.5 cm) long. She dropped to 13 ounces (370 gm), had heart surgery, survived and went home with her mother. We have her photo from the Miami Herald in our book. Our last contact with her was when she was about five years old, at which time she was a normal, healthy little girl. (Abortion Questions and Answers, pp. 98, 99, 2003.)
Finally, we have two cases at 18 weeks. Note: For a listing of eleven such early survivors, see the 1989 edition of Abortion Questions and Answers (Willke. Hayes Pub. Co. pp. 60, 61).
All of the tiny babies in our listing were publicized in local newspapers or other publications, but none of them received national or international publicity.
So happily, finally, one such early survivor has been publicized and we may all now rejoice that this conscientious (or inadvertent) boycott of such information has finally been broken through.
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