A lucky pair of scissors

One of the luckier babies of 2012 was little Maddalena Douse of Lewes, East Sussex, England, who was born last summer at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton.Baby scissors

Maddalena was born at 23 weeks, and weighed only 382 grams, or about 13 1/2 ounces. According to a story in The Sun, a baby weighing less than a pound would not have been considered viable, and the hospital would not have been likely to use extraordinary measures to keep her alive.

However, at her first weigh-in, Maddalena wound up on the scale with a pair of scissors that went unnoticed. Their weight brought her up to that lucky pound. Only when she was already on a ventilator to help her breathe did the hospital staff discover the difference the scissors had made in her weight.

The little girl went home just before Christmas and "is expected to grow into a healthy child," according to the article.

“We never thought we’d ever bring Maddalena home,” said Kate Douse, Maddalena's mother, according to The Sun. “She now weighs 5½ [pounds] and is getting stronger by the day. She’s our little miracle and we’re so glad to have her home in time for Christmas.”

Maddalena had a twin, Isabella, who did not survive.

Babies, stay put!

November is Premature Birth Awareness Month at the March of Dimes, part of an effort to bring down the appalling rate of premature birth in this country, where every minute a baby is born before its time — one in every eight babies born — for a total of 543,000 every year. That's almost 1,500 premature babies born every day, 13 of whom die from complications.

Premature birth — any one that takes place before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy — is the leading cause of infant mortality throughout the world. Babies even a few weeks premature can have health problems that will stay with them for their lifetimes.

In the United States, the rate of premature birth has risen 30 percent in the past 30 years. However, after peaking in 2006, the rate has begun to come down. The March of Dimes thinks its campaign, begun in 2003, had a hand in the decrease.

Premature babies can cost 10 times more to care for than babies born after 37 weeks — $32,325, compared with  $3,325 for full-term infants. The total cost of preterm birth in the United States is $26 million, according to the March of Dimes.

The organization hopes to bring premature births down with increased education for moms and health-care providers, prenatal care and research through its Prematurity Research Initiative.

On Wednesday, Nov. 17, the 8th Annual Premature Birth Awareness Day, the Empire State Building in New York will shine purple, the color assigned to this effort by the March of Dimes.