A baby born 16 weeks early and weighing less than a loaf of bread at birth has finally gone home after four months in hospital.
Baby Liylah was born at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital to parents, Kimberley and James Leith, from Horsehay. She weighed just 650 grams [1lb 6oz ]at birth.
Mum, Kimberley, attended maternity triage with sharp stomach pains when she was 24 weeks pregnant. The pains turned out to be contractions and she gave birth to baby Liylah a few hours later on 5 January 2023.
She said “At 650g, Liylah weighed less than a loaf of bread and her head was smaller than a tennis ball. Stretched out head to toe she measured just 29cm in length.”
“I was able to cuddle Liylah for the first time”
Her parents were not allowed to cuddle her until she was about three weeks old as she had to be given specialist care at hospitals nearby.
“Due to her size, Liylah was put onto a ventilator, incubated and taken straight to the neonatal ward before being transferred to Newcross Hospital in Wolverhampton and then onto Birmingham Children’s Hospital for surgery and specialist care.”
For nearly three months, James and Kimberley had to say in a neonatal flat at Birmingham Woman’s Hospital to be close to Liylah. During this time, Kimberley said “We learned how to tube feed her and at 21 days old, with three nurses there to safely transfer her for skin-to-skin contact, I was able to cuddle Liylah for the first time”.
On 17 March 17, after about three months in Birmingham Children’s Hospital, baby Liylah was finally strong enough to be transferred back to the Princess Royal Hospital. Her parents were relieved to have Liylah at their hometown hospital. In the weeks that followed, Liylah progressed really well. James and Kimberley were able to bathe and bottle-feed her. She is also starting to be able to breathe for herself, reducing her dependence on oxygen support and was discharged later this week.
Improving outcomes for premature babies
A study, ‘Mortality, In-Hospital Morbidity, Care Practices, and 2-Year Outcomes for Extremely Preterm Infants in the US, 2013-2018’, by Dr Edward F Bell of the University of Iowa, found that from 2013 to 2018, with infants born between 22 and 28 weeks gestation, “survival to discharge occurred in 78.3% and was significantly improved compared with a historical rate of 76.0% among infants born in 2008-2012”.
The study, which took place between 2013 and 2018, assessed 10,877 infants born between 22 and 28 weeks gestation in 19 academic medical centres across the US.
This means that almost four out of five extremely prematurely-born babies survived and were able to be assessed at 22-26 months corrected age (22-26 months from their due date) for a number of health and functional outcomes.
Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “Baby Liylah’s inspirational story is a testament to the improving outcomes for premature babies and a constant challenge to the current abortion time limit of 24 weeks in the UK.”