PARENTS
07/26/2012 04:09 pm ET | Updated Jul 27, 2012

Adam Cheshire, Meningitis Baby Who Woke From Coma After A Hug From Mom, Takes First Steps

A newborn celebrated for emerging from a coma after a hug from his mother has reached a new milestone -- he's walking.

Adam Cheshire, now 16 months old, has taken his first steps, according to several reports.

He survived a near-death ordeal last year after contracting Group B Strep Meningitis from his mother during delivery. He stopped breathing, suffered violent seizures and was placed in a medical coma. Doctors told his parents, Charlotte and Chris Cheshire of Telford, England, to take a last photo of the infant and prepare for the worst.

Then events his family deemed to be nearly impossible began to unfold. Adam slowly regained some breathing function, providing a glimmer of hope. But it was nestling in his mother's arms for the first time that got him to finally open his eyes and spring back to life, according to reports. She continued to rock him in her arms up to 12 hours a day in the hospital.

"Adam is our miracle," his mother, Charlotte Cheshire, told the Daily Mail. "He just refused to give up."

Adam spent 23 days clinging to life in intensive care. And now, despite battling complications from the disease, he is making huge advances, his mom said.

While some might doubt the notion that a mother cuddling her gravely ill child could spur such a turnaround, one expert said parent-to-child snuggling has many benefits. "Skin-to-skin contact, or kangaroo care, is a beneficial way of helping a baby bond with its parents," hospital midwife chief Cathy Smith said in the Telegraph. "This contact can help the baby relax, improve temperature control and regulate the heartbeat."

UC-Irvine child neurologist and neuroscientist Dr. Tallie Z. Baram said in phys.org that caressing triggers infant brain activity that helps cognitive ability and builds resilience to stress. “Communication among brain cells is the foundation of cognitive processes such as learning and memory,” Baram said in the article.

While Adam's mom says she is grateful for her son's progress, obstacles loom ahead. Charlotte Cheshire said in a speech posted on YouTube (see video below) that Adam's eyes wobble from side to side, he is nearly deaf, and is constantly sick. Doctors suggest he may have immunity and lung problems, while other disabilities may appear over time, she added.

Adam's problems are typical of someone who survives Group B Strep Meningitis, and that was why Cheshire urged Britain's National Health Service to adopt early testing for Group B Strep. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine screening for vaginal strep B for all pregnant women. About one in four healthy women carry the bacteria, and GBS affects 1 in 2,000 babies, who become infected during delivery.

"The emotional and financial costs to our family have been immense," the mother said. "... Even though my precious boy is alive, at just a year old his life is marked by disability."

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