Drug Helps Premature Babies

December 28, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Every year 500,000 babies are born prematurely in the U.S. Taking an emotional toll on the parents and the health care system.A drug used by adults is now helping the smallest of patients fight for survival. If you follow the statistics, little Becca Hill isn't supposed to be here. Born more than 2 months early, Becca weighed just 13 ounces- less than an average size apple.

So far Becca beat the odds because she beat the risk of infection. Nearly 30% of the smallest premature babies contract infections caused by a fungus. It's on their skin after birth and when plastic life support tubes are inserted, the fungus enters their bodies.

More than 70% of babies who develop the infection will die or suffer permanent brain damage. A clinical trial revealed a drug- commonly given to transplant patients -also helps these tiny babies. Small doses of Fluconzale during the first six weeks of life prevented infections in all the babies tested.