US's Second-Smallest Baby Headed Home

Melinda Star Guido weighed only 9 ½ ounces at birth- less than a can of soda. After spending her early months in the neonatal intensive care unit, a team of doctors and nurses will gather Friday to see her off.

Melinda has been growing steadily and gaining weight since she was born premature at 24 weeks in August at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. She is the world's third smallest baby and the second smallest in the U.S.

Now weighing 4½ pounds, doctors said Melinda has made enough progress to be discharged. It's too early to know how she will fare developmentally and physically, but doctors planned to monitor her for the next six years.

Most babies this small don't survive even with advanced medical care. About 7,500 babies are born each year in the United States weighing less than 1 pound, and about 10 percent survive.

Image: Premature baby in incubator, via Shutterstock

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