A California mother's instinct may have saved her newborn baby's life.
When little Hope Juarez was born in Orange Country, Calif., last month, it was immediately clear that something was wrong. Hope was born as white as a ghost, and doctors realized that the baby had almost no blood in her body.
"She was crying and they brought her over to us and she was really pale," Hope's father, Josh Juarez, told local station ABC7. "I knew that something was really wrong when they started pricking at her feet trying to get blood to come out and there was no blood coming out."
A blood transfusion was ordered, and then there was nothing to do but hope that it would work.
"She probably lost about 80 percent or more. She was pale. She was really white," Dr. Marielle Nguyen, a neonatologist at Kaiser Permanente, Irvine Medical Center, told ABC 7.
As it turned out, Hope had lost the majority of her fetal blood in her mother's uterus, something known as fetal-maternal hemorrhage. While many babies suffer some insignificant blood loss before they are born, in severe cases the hemorrhage can be so large that it can endanger the life of the fetus, "resulting in fetal demise, stillbirth, or delivery of a severely anemic infant," according to a November 2012 article in the American Journal of Perinatology Reports.
That article notes that the symptoms of significant fetal-maternal hemorrhage are hard to discern, presenting in subtle or nonspecific ways.
Hope Juarez may have been saved due to the vigilance and "gut feeling" of her mother, Jennifer Juarez, who noticed the child had suddenly stopped kicking three weeks before her due date. Worried that something was wrong, Jennifer sought immediate medical attention and was given an emergency cesarean section, likely saving her daughter's life.
"So, please, please let this be a message to all you mamas-to-be out there," Nicole Fabian-Weber wrote for Cafe Mom's The Stir blog. "If your gut tells you something is off with your pregnancy, it probably is, so talk to your doctor or midwife immediately. Nobody's better living proof than Jennifer and Hope Juarez."
A baby was delivered in England with a similar condition a few years ago. Olivia Bearman was born premature and a ghostly pale color in September of 2012, reports the Telegraph.
"It was a miracle she survived," neonatal nurse Sharon Pilgrim said at the time, according to the Telegraph. "She was incredibly pale when born and had difficulties breathing. There was no sign of blood loss prior to the caesarean or during the operation. It was only when we carried out further tests on Louise that we discovered the baby had lost blood directly into her mum's blood circulation."