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Premature Baby Recovers After Stint In Kangaroo-like Pouch

November 15, 1985

ALBION, Mich. (AP) _ A baby born 12 weeks premature left the hospital Friday, after nurses spent 10 days ferrying the child around in a kangaroo-like pouch.

″It’s as close as you can come to putting the baby back in the womb,″ said Dr. Marta Airala, a pediatrician for Ciji Jones, who weighed 1 pound, 14 ounces when she was born Sept. 22.

Airala said she suggested the pouch for Ciji while the girl was being cared for at Albion Community Hospital. Nurses and the child’s mother, Louisa Jones, took turns wearing a specially designed apron that allows them to carry Ciji next to their stomachs.

Airala said she became aware of the idea during a visit last fall to a children’s hospital in Argentina.

″They were called kangaroo babies,″ she said. ″They showed me the growth charts. When the babies were in the isolette (an incubator-like device), the growth rate was flat. But when they were carried in the pouch, the growth rate immediately took off. They gained weight and did very well.″

The infant was put in intensive care after her birth and returned to the nursery Oct. 30. Airala suggested the pouch once she was satisfied the baby could survive outside incubation.

The pouch allows the nurses to carry Ciji while they go about their normal work.

″It’s kind of like an external pregnancy,″ said nurse Fran Mowrer. ″In an isolette, a baby doesn’t get a lot of handling. The pouch allows some late bonding.″

During the 10 days the child was carried in the pouch, she gained 20 ounces to now weigh 4 pounds, 6 ounces. Airala said she didn’t think the child would be ready for release otherwise.

″I don’t think that would have been possible without the pouch,″ Airala said.

The pouch will go home with Ciji so her mother can continue to carry her in it. A new pouch will be made for the next prematurely born baby who would benefit from it.

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