Rare Case of "Ghost-White Baby" Who Survived Birth Develops Normally

| by Lina Batarags

So-called ”ghost-white babies” are born in extremely rare cases with such low blood levels that they appear completely white.

Hope Juarez, born three weeks early in December 2013, is one of an even rarer type of ghost-white baby; because of the vigilance her mother displayed and the speed with which she acted, she is a child that, despite her low hemoglobin levels at birth, seems to be developing completely normally.

Hope’s mother, Jennifer Juarez, said that the baby had been extremely active in the latter half of her pregnancy, sometimes kicking up to 10 times in a mere 30 minutes. In December, however, the baby suddenly went still.

When the baby was delivered via emergency C-section, doctors discovered that nearly 80 percent of the child’s blood had drained from her body due to a fetal-maternal hemorrhage. Decreased fetal activity, as Juarzed had sensed, is the biggest sign of fetal-maternal hemorrhage.

Juarez, 27, said the child was breathing normally – but that the baby’s skin utterly and completely white.

When they tried to prick her foot to measure oxygen levels, doctors struggled to even draw blood.

Professor Michael Permezel, President of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that “the breakdown of the barrier between the mother’s circulation and baby’s circulation” is not uncommon, but that average blood loss in most cases is “only a few milliliters.”

An average baby should have hemoglobin levels between 10 and 15; Hope’s measured in at an astonishingly low 3.8.

Many “ghost white babies” die in utero or are stillborn; those that survive birth face a high likelihood of having neurological damage.

But, as Dr. Marielle Nguyen, a neonatologist at Kaiser Permanente Irvine Medical Center, where Hope was born, said, “The mom knew right away that she had a clue something was wrong. She couldn’t feel the baby move. And she came in right away and we delivered the baby.”

“If we had waited any longer, the outcome would have been different,” Nguyen stated.

Nguyen said that all signs indicate that Hope, who was 6 pounds, 2 ounces when she was born, will have no problems.

The doctor has also said that she doesn’t know what caused the fetal-maternal hemorrhage. These hemorrhages can result from trauma to a pregnant woman’s abdomen, which can cause the placenta to separate from the uterine wall; often, however, they can also be spontaneous.

Sources: ABC News,
Photo Source: ABC News