This health video looks into the development of artificial amniotic fluid to help premature babies tolerate breast milk of formula.
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Jennifer Matthews: Baby Jarell got an early start to life. Richelle Taylor-Harri: He was two pounds and 10 ounces, and when he came out, he came out crying. Jennifer Matthews: As a preemie, Jarell has one goal. Dr. Darlene Calhoun: If you are born prematurely, your ticket to going home is basically gaining weight. Jennifer Matthews: But that's not always easy. When babies are in the womb, they swallow amniotic fluid. The fluid helps the digestive system develop properly. When babies are born premature, they no longer swallow amniotic fluid and can't tolerate breast milk or formula yet. Now, a new option is being tested. Doctor Darlene Calhoun helped develop artificial amniotic fluid. The solution has growth factors to help intestines digest food sooner. Dr. Darlene Calhoun: Our goal is if you can go onto feeds faster, this will ultimately shorten the babies' hospitalization. Jennifer Matthews: Doctor Calhoun says if every preemie shortened their hospital stay by just one day, it would save 250 million dollars. But, there's more than a financial gain. Richelle Taylor-Harris: I think it gave him an extra boost to get started. Jennifer Matthews: Three weeks ago, Jarell was given the fluid as part of a clinical trial. Mom admits she was nervous. Richelle Taylor-Harris: No, no he's not going to be a research project, but he listened to what they said, thank goodness. Jennifer Matthews: Jarell is now 3.5 pounds and growing. Perfect, but little, and waiting for one more big step. Richelle Taylor-Harris: To go home. Get him home. Jennifer Matthews: This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.