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Baby as small as pen when born to go home

MIAMI (Reuters) - A premature baby only slightly longer than a ballpoint pen at birth was due to be sent home in the coming days from a Florida hospital after four months of neonatal intensive care, the hospital said on Tuesday.

The Baptist Children’s Hospital in Miami said Amillia Sonja Taylor was born at 21 weeks and six days on October 24, making her possibly the most premature baby on record to survive.

The claim was based on the University of Iowa’s registry of the tiniest babies. The university bases its registry on media reports and medical journal reports and says it does not attempt to verify the information submitted by contributors.

Amillia weighed just under 10 ounces (283.5 grams) and measured 9.5 inches in length when she was born.

The tiny baby had been scheduled to go home on Tuesday but doctors “decided to keep her for a few more days observation,” according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Conceived by in vitro fertilization, she was delivered via Caesarean section after attempts to delay a premature delivery failed, the hospital said. She breathed without assistance at birth and even tried to cry.

“She’s truly a miracle baby,” said Dr. William Smalling, a neonatologist at Baptist Children’s Hospital.

“We didn’t even know what a normal blood pressure is for a baby this small,” Smalling said in a statement issued by the hospital.

A full-term pregnancy is 37 to 40 weeks. Babies born at less than 23 weeks and 14.11 ounces (400 grams) in weight are not considered viable. Premature babies are also far more likely to suffer physical problems than are babies carried to term.

Additional reporting by Will Dunham in Washington

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