Prematurity Awareness Month

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – November is Prematurity Awareness month, and purple is the color of that cause.

UCSD Hillcrest, which has a 49 bed NICU, will be lit up in purple for the rest of the month.

Little Carina was suppose to arrive on January 20, 2015, but surprised her parents three months early, on October 24, at one pound, 12 ounces.

Her mom, Ana Perez, is allowed to hold her baby for about three hours a day.

“I keep telling her to grow, keep growing, keep growing,” said Ana.

“I sing songs to her and read to her, You are My Sunshine, and I just sing it over and over and over,” she said.

Carina will be at UCSD Neonatal Intensive Care Unit until she is strong and big enough to go home with her family.

Ana, can’t say enough about her daughter’s caregivers.

“The nurses have been amazing, every day, keeping her alive. The also take care of us, asking my husband and I how we are doing,” said Ana.

Dr. Lance Prince is the Chief of Neonatology at UCSD. He says improvements in the care of premature babies and new technology are all making a big difference now.

“We’re starting to see better survivals, better outcomes. Out of the babies that make it, they’re having fewer and fewer disabilities down the road,” said Dr. Prince.

Making sure woman of reproductive age take care of themselves, by not smoking and watching their nutrition is important, doctors say.

But no one knows why most babies are born early, and that is the challenge.

“There is not anything a mom can do to prevent prematurity right now. Just make sure she gets seen by her doctor, and identified as quickly as possible if they’re at risk,” said Dr. Prince.

At two and half pounds, Carina opens her eyes and looks around, and continues to develop. It is just happening outside the womb.

The fact that Ana and her husband have a three year old at home, keeps them going.

“You don’t have a choice, you just do it, for your kids, for yourself, and mostly for her so,” said Ana.

Ana added, “We go home and feel like she’s safe and being taken care of, that’s the most important thing.”

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