Little Daisy Salter was born at 23 weeks and two days gestation, making it just beyond the window of survival by a matter of days, according to her father, Neil. Her mother Katie was put on bedrest six weeks earlier, after doctors told her she was at risk for preterm labor. Her first daughter, Ila, was born at just 31 weeks gestation.
Daisy weighed only 545 grams was she was born in June 2016. She was on a ventilator for the first three weeks after birth and was able to go home after 102 days in the hospital.
Katie Salter told the New Zealand Herald that the first weeks of Daisy’s life were the scariest time in hers. While she received a warning that her baby would come early, other mothers aren’t so lucky, she said.
“We were quite closely monitored, but not everybody is,” Neil Salter explained to the New Zealand Herald. “Every day or week makes a difference. It can be the difference between life and death, or health and ill-health.”
Daisy is doing well, meeting her milestones and gaining enough weight to bring her to the 25th percentile for her age. She still requires the help of oxygen at night and only time will tell if she has any complications from her early birth.
“She’s a special girl – she’s our miracle,” said Katie Salter.
Preterm children are surviving at increased rates, thanks to advances in medicine and technology. Children as young as Daisy are helping to lower the perceived age of viability. However, if parents and doctors could know ahead of time that a baby would likely be born early, such as in the Salter’s case, they could take extra measures to help delay labor.
In New Zealand, the Salters have thrown their support behind researchers who are creating a blood test to help predict which pregnant women are more at risk for preterm labor. Researchers at Auckland University’s Medical School and Liggins Institute discovered a unique molecular fingerprint in the blood of women who went on to have preterm babies that they did not find to be present in women who carried to term. The team is now in the process of conducting a larger study to confirm their results.