Baby born at four months. When dad put him in his lap, he was shocked. The boy, who made history as the world’s most premature baby to survive is celebrating his first Thanksgiving at home. A boy who weighs just 15oz at birth has been named by Guinness World Records as the world’s most premature infant to survive. Curtis Means of Alabama, was born on July 5, 2020, when his mum, Michelle Butler, went into labor just 21 weeks into her pregnancy and gave birth to twins.
Curtis’s sister, Kaisha, died one day after birth, but Curtis survived while being cared for in the regional NICU unit at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Women and Infant Center. Butler said she remembers praying that one of her twin newborns would survive the premature delivery.
My prayers have been answered, Butler told Good Morning America. I gave God my little girl and he let me continue to be the mother to Curtis. Curtis, who was born 132 days premature, was so delicate at birth that Butler said she had to wait for four weeks after giving birth to hold her son.
At the time, he could fit in the palm of her hand. According to Good Morning America, Curtis survived while being cared for in the regional neonatal intensive care unit at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Women’s and Infant Center. But his sister Kaisha, passed away one day later due to complications as she was much less developed. Speaking to the network, Butler said she remembers praying at least one of her twin newborns would survive the premature delivery. My prayers have been answered, she said.
I gave God my little girl and he let me continue to be the mother to Curtis as a newborn. Curtis, who was born 132 days premature, weighed only 420 grams and could fit in the palm of his mother’s hand. The medical staff told me that they don’t normally keep babies at that age, Butler told Guinness World Records. It was very stressful with doctors and nurses caring for him around the clock. Curtis spent the next nine months in the Rncu.
He showed a lot of response to the things we were doing, said Dr. Brian Sims, professor of Pediatrics at the UAB Division of Neonatology and the attending physician on call when Butler arrived. It definitely was a surprise that a baby at his age was as much a fighter or as strong as he was. Sims explained that he and his colleagues had to keep a close eye on Curtis’s responses to treatments. As there is no medical precedent for a baby born so premature, the numbers say that babies at this age will not survive.
Mom’s question to me was, can we give my baby a chance? He said. We have never been able to bring a baby that young to the neonatal intensive care unit, so Curtis was literally the first of his kind. We were in uncharted territory. Butler, who also has two older children aged 14 and seven made the three hour commute round trip from her home to the Rncu three or four times a week to see her son.
During the months he was at the hospital, on days she couldn’t visit in person, nurses coordinated video calls so she could see Curtis. It was ups and downs, good and bad days, she said. For a couple of weeks he’d do really well and then he’d get sick and go about five steps backward. Despite having less than 1% chance of survival at birth, Curtis beat the odds and was determined fit enough to go home on April 6, 2021, after spending 275 days in the Rniku.
Six months later, Butler and Curtis returned to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Women and Infant Center, where they were surprised by doctors and nurses who presented them with the Guinness World Record certificate naming Curtis as the world’s most premature infant to survive.
People talk about awards and things, but to see a patient who has virtually had no chance of survival on paper be looking at you and smiling is one of the greatest rewards and awards that a doctor can have, said Sims. Curtis did most of the work, but it was an honor to be able to assist him. The resilient young boy is now 16 months old and weighs nearly £19.
Sims revealed that although Curtis is still on oxygen and remains on a feeding tube, he would wean off of both of those in the future. The good news is that all of the things that he has right now, strong babies can get off of those things, so that’s very encouraging, said Sims.
But when we’re taking care of a baby that we’ve never had the opportunity to take care of, a lot of this will be us watching him develop over time. He’s very active. I’m tired already, Butler joked when asked about her son’s energy levels. I’m very proud of him because where he came from and where he’s at now, I can tell the difference. Having this record is a blessing that he has accomplished, and I’m thankful that the Guinness World Records accepted him.
A myriad of factors can contribute to premature births, including a mother’s age and income, her health and her access to prenatal care. Access to contraception can play a role. Women who have pregnancies and quick secession are also at risk of giving birth early, said Bruce Becker, a gynecologist and obstetrician who serves as chair of the Public Health Advisory Council at the Climate Action Campaign in San Diego.
Climate change could be exacerbating the problem, according to a 2020 study that examined more than 32 million births in the United States and found that pregnant women exposed to high temperatures or air pollution were more likely to have children who were premature underweight or stillborn, it’s too early to conclude how large a role climate change is playing in low birth weights and preterm birth, said Becker, one of the authors of the 2020 study.
But the evidence that it is a significant factor is compelling, he said, noting that the number of preterm births fell at least 20% in California in areas where fossil fuel plants shut down.
Other events caused at least in part by climate change like the growing number of wildfires in the Western part of the United States and the increasing frequency and intensity of heat waves have been associated with preterm births. It’s going to get worse, Becker said. Climate change is going to continue to put increasing pressure on premature birth rates. Butler said her cervix began to open up shortly before the birth. She underwent surgery at UAB Hospital to close it and was discharged from the hospital July 4.
Her sister was driving her home over severely bumpy roads when she began to feel the contractions, Butler said. She said that when her daughter died, she had little time to grieve, knowing that Curtis was still trying to survive. I had to pull myself together and be strong for him, Butler said. The doctors told her that with a baby born that early, they would have to take it day by day and even hour by hour. Sims said it was not clear why Butler went into early labor.
She had access to neonatal care and saw a doctor regularly, he said. Delivery before 37 completed weeks of gestation is labeled as pre term or premature delivery. Such babies are preterm or premature preterm babies do not follow the expected height and weight developments as a baby born at term does. By the age of two years, however, babies born preterm are expected to catch up with their peers, who were termed deliveries. The mature sucking and swallowing pattern develops only by 34th week in utero, so babies delivered prior to 34 weeks may not be able to effectively breastfeed.
We have a separate algorithm on how to approach such babies in terms of feeding. Babies in general cannot thermoregulate their own temperature, so after delivery we cover them up in sweaters and blankets. Even in warm summer months, it takes them time to adapt to the new environment. Preterm babies are worse at maintaining temperature for them. We suggest something called Kangaroo mother care.
You can read about it more on the Internet. It’s widely advocated in gymar. A premature baby has to learn how to do many things which are instinctive for a full term baby, for example, premature babies often do not have a sucking reflex, so they must try, fail, try again, fail again, try again and finally succeed to simply obtain the nourishment they need. This early exposure to failure might build resilience and the growth mindset we strive to engender in school pupil. So with this skill they may be able to set up to succeed in intelligence measures.
Given the scare that a parent might lose this precious baby, or experiencing the need to fight for your child, or being told that your child might face difficulties due to personal feelings. In this situation, your inability to nurture them to full term might focus a parent’s attention to supply the baby with as much stimulation and attention that you’re capable of.
While with a full term baby, you are perhaps less aware of how your intervention can be so important in stimulating their ability. Not that you love them any less, it’s just that premature scares the bejesus out of most parents in a way a normal full term birth rarely does. It was probably true at one point.