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Monday, February 21 2011, 10:26 PM CST

MADISON (WMSN) -- Every parents hope when their child is born hopes theirs is as healthy and happy as possible, but for some families they're faced with the difficult news they're born premature.


In the past four decades - so many advancements have been made to increase a baby's survival.


"It's been a whirlwind - obviously he was earlier than expected," said Kelly Herbert, who's son Charlie was born premature.


Kelly and Ben Herbert are celebrating the birth of their first son - about 5 1/2 weeks early, weighing 8 pounds, 6 ounces.


"The first couple of days definitely concern of what's going on and expecially with medications and treatments," said Kelly Herbert.


Their baby boy Charlie is growing bigger by the day in the neonatal intensive care unit.


Ready to head home - as soon as he passes a few milestones.


"While he's eating is one of the major concerns and the ability to breath and pace themselves while they're eating. At first it was really hard cause we werent really familiar with the hospital," said Kelly Herbert.


Premature births - bring serious challenges for babies.


"Premature babies do not have a mature immune system - so any kind of bacterial infection is very life threatening. They can develop cerebral palsy visual problems hearing loss and significant problems," said Dr. Mary Bussey, with St. Mary's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.


"Every baby is unique and special and they sort of pace themselves," said Diane Buss, St. Mary's Neonatal Nurse.


"We don't want to send them home unless we're sure the baby will be able to meet its nutritional means and we don't want to rehospitalize the baby," said Buss.


She's seen how far we've come in the past four decades.


"When I started a baby born at 28 weeks gestation has a poor chance of surviving and now most of those babies born at 28 weeks can survive," said Buss.


A full term baby is born at 40-weeks.


A common problem with preemies - underdeveloped lungs. Today, doctors know steroids for moms at risk can give babies the boost they need.


"It will allow babies lungs to inflate properly," said Dr. Mary Bussey


While Charlies family can't wait to take him home, the Johns family share's their happy ending to their twin girls allie and ellie born 12 weeks early - two short years ago.


"As you can tell - they're very healthy very active past all the milestones no cognitive or physical disabilities so good normal healthy babies," said Jason Johns, who's twins were born premature.


Something the staff strives for every day.


"Give it the best - and hope for the best cause you never know when a miracle can happen," said Diane Buss, St. Mary's Neonatal Nurse.


"They've given us every implication he'll be fine is based off his size early on shouldn't determine i think he has good genetics," said Ben Herbert


Now if you're wondering how Charlie is doing - after a few setbacks he was able to make it home and is doing well. His mom says he currently weighs more than eight pounds.


The rate for high risk pregnancies has not gone down.


In part for the number of twin and triplet babies born the past several years.

Special Report: Born Premature

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