MONDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- When she was born prematurely in 1989, weighing less than two-thirds of a pound, Madeline Mann was the world's smallest surviving baby.
At the same hospital in 2004, Rumaisa Rahman took over the title of world's tiniest infant, weighing in at 0.57 pounds. She was one of twins, and she spent 50 days on a ventilator in the neonatal intensive care unit at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill.
At her five-year checkup, Rumaisa weighed 34 pounds and had grown to 3 feet, 3 inches. She was attending first-grade on an individual learning plan. She wears glasses because of retinopathy of prematurity, an eye problem common in preemies.
Madeline, whose mother had been treated for infertility, was the only survivor among triplets. Her mother, like Rumaisa's, had severe preeclampsia, a life-threatening condition in pregnant women that can only be cured by delivering the baby or babies. Madeline was on a ventilator for 65 days. She had a heart condition and also had retinopathy.
Madeline also wears corrective lenses, but she drives and is in good health. At 65 pounds and 4 feet, 6 inches, she's still small. Now a college senior, she's an honors student majoring in psychology.
Both girls are living proof that even the smallest preemies can survive and lead normal lives, although not all do so well. Updates on their progress appear online Dec. 12 and in the January 2012 issue of Pediatrics.
Dr. Jonathan Muraskas, a professor of neonatal-perinatal medicine and a member of the medical team for both girls, said, "You always worry about [future health] when babies undergo so much stress in the uterine environment. Down the road, as they're reaching their teens, they're at risk for diabetes, heart disease."
Survival in these tiny infants is much more dependent on how many weeks the pregnancy lasts, rather than weight
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