Vietnam's smallest baby girl, born weighing 480g, is ready to return home

Doctors at the Vinh Phuc Obstetrics and Pediatric Hospital on November 25 described the girl’s survival after only 26 weeks in gestation as a "rare miracle."

After the team's unrelenting efforts, the baby girl was successfully saved from death's hands. Photo courtesy of the Vinh Phuc Obstetrics and Pediatric Hospital.

According to VnExpress, the baby girl in the northern Vinh Phuc Province is the lightest prematurely born baby to survive in Vietnam, weighing just 480 grams at birth.

The mother, who had been barren for a decade, resorted to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and became pregnant with twins. She showed signs of amniotic fluid leakage 18 weeks in and was admitted to the hospital on July 1, where she was found to be at risk of a miscarriage.

She prematurely birthed a baby at week 24, but that baby did not survive. Doctors decided then to keep the other baby in the womb.

Her greatest risk at the time was a uterus infection, which could have forced doctors to remove her uterus altogether. The procedure might have meant that the mother could never become pregnant again, said Doctor To Van An, head of the hospital’s obstetrics disease department.

"The most important task was to keep the remaining fetus alive in the womb for as long as possible," An said.

The mother was treated with antibiotics and other drugs to delay labor, before she showed signs of running out of amniotic fluid on August 20. Doctors were forced to deliver the baby prematurely within the day, at 26 weeks in gestation.

After her delivery, the baby girl was transported to a special ward for infants in a very weak condition. She had weak responses, shallow breath and discoloration of the whole body. She was put in an incubator, supported with ventilators, fed through her veins and treated with antibiotics and several drugs.

As she was born prematurely, the baby faced heightened risks of brain haemorrhage, respiratory failure, pneumonia and infection, among other conditions. But day after day, she staged a miraculous recovery and was finally put off ventilators and fed normally with milk.

When she was discharged on November 25, the baby was 39 weeks old and weighed 2.1 kg.

Her survival has set a record in Vietnam in the field of treating premature infants with ultra-low birth weight and severe diseases.

The lightest prematurely born baby who has survived in Vietnam before the one in Vinh Phuc is Bui Thi Gai, born in 2010 at week 25 in gestation. She weighed just over 500 grams at birth.

Combined with the previous rescue success, this demonstrates how Vietnam has improved the treatment of critically ill newborns.

A set of premature triplets were saved by Hung Vuong Hospital doctors. Photo courtesy of the hospital

According to UNICEF, Vietnam has had significant progress in raising the survival ratio of children under five years old within the last 25 years. The ratio was 52 per 1,000 children in 1990, dropping to 12 per 1,000 children in 2018.  

Hung Vuong Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City has been able to save thousands of premature infants each year. The survival rate of babies born between 24 and 37 weeks of pregnancy is now up to 90 percent, reported VNA.

The latest premature infants who were saved by the hospital were triplets from the south-central coastal province of Binh Thuan born at 26 weeks and five days of pregnancy.

The three babies showed signs of respiratory failure due to pneumonia and were placed in the neonatal department. They also suffered from neonatal infections. Two of them received blood transfusions, while one suffered from enteritis.

The hospital’s doctors treated them for over 91 days and used the Kangaroo Care method in which there is warm skin-to-skin contact with the babies to help maintain their body temperature, respiration and digestion. 

The doctors also were able to save a male infant weighing 800 grams born after 25 weeks of pregnancy.

Thuy Quynh