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Premature Baby Recovers After Stint In Kangaroo-like Pouch

November 16, 1985

ALBION, Mich. (AP) _ An infant born 12 weeks premature thrived because of her 10-day stay in a kangaroo-like pouch that a doctor says is ″as close as you can come to putting the baby back in the womb.″

Nurses and the child’s mother, Louisa Jones, took turns wearing a specially designed apron that allowed them to carry the baby, Ciji Jones, next to their stomachs.

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

The baby’s weight increased from 1 pound, 14 ounces at her birth Sept. 22 to 4 pounds, 6 ounces on her release Friday from Albion Community Hospital.

Dr. Marta Airala, Ciji’s pediatrician, attributed the weight gain to the pouch, saying the baby otherwise would not have been ready for release.

During the 10 days the child was carried in the pouch, she gained 20 ounces.

″It’s as close as you can come to putting the baby back in the womb,″ said Airala, who first saw the pouch used 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, 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.″

She suggested it for Ciji once she was satisfied the baby could survive outside incubation. Ciji was in intensive care from her birth until she was returned to the nursery on Oct. 30.

The pouch allowed the nurses to carry Ciji and still go about their normal work.

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 premature baby who would benefit from the simulated return to the womb.

″The little infants just develop so much better if they aren’t in an isolette the whole time,″ Airala said. ″You need that human touch.″

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