Tue, Jul 22, 2003 - Page 2 News List

SARS baby born healthy, but premature

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

A SARS-infected nurse gave birth to a healthy baby girl in Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taipei early Sunday morning. Both mother and baby were in stable condition, the hospital said yesterday.

Lin Mei-hsueh (林美雪), a 28-year-old nurse from Taipei's Jen Chi Hospital, was infected with SARS in late April and admitted to the hospital's isolation ward on April 29.

Lin was more than four-months pregnant when she caught the disease. After a month-long treatment, she was discharged from the hospital on May 29 and placed under domestic quarantine for two weeks.

She gave birth to a daughter at 6:30am on Sunday. The baby was delivered two weeks prematurely.

The baby, Lin's firstborn, weighed 2,866g and was 47cm in height.

"Although the baby is a tiny one, her appearance is normal. She is pretty active and all results of tests conducted on her are normal," the hospital said.

Lin did not appear at a press conference held in the hospital to announce the safe delivery yesterday but issued a statement to express her gratitude for all parties involved in helping her weather the disease.

"Being a pregnant woman and infected with SARS was difficult. But seeing my baby delivered smoothly and safely, I was so excited," Lin said.

"My joy, however, was mixed with a slight amount of concern because I was concerned the drugs administered to me during the treatment might affect my child," Lin said.

The baby, added Lin, needed to go through more examinations to ensure her health had not been affected by her mother's treatment.

Hospital staff involved in Lin's delivery put on level-3 biosafety outfits as an added precauton. But the hospital stressed both mother and baby were show no signs of the SARS virus in their bloodstreams.

Lin Chien-hsing (林建興), the nurse's husband, said he and his wife were greatly relieved after the delivery. Accompanied by two doctors, Chiu Nan-chang (邱南昌) and Huang Jian-pei (黃建霈), he shared his happiness with reporters.

"After recovering from SARS and being discharged from the hospital, my wife suffered from asthma occasionally," Lin Chien-hsing said.

"She often had breathing difficulties when walking and needed to use a wheelchair. It was really tough for her," he said.

"But all these hard times evaporated after we saw the baby's safe birth," Lin added.

Lin Mei-hsueh was one of the two pregnant Jen Chi Hospital nurses infected with SARS. Her colleague, Hu Kuei-fang (胡貴芳), was less fortunate.

Hu and her unborn baby died in May. Hu was 35-weeks pregnant.

Meanwhile, Li Kuo-kuang (李國光), an obstetrician at Mackay Memorial Hospital, said administration of antiviral drugs on women who are less than 13-weeks pregnant could produce deformities in the offspring. Women receiving such drugs when they are 13- to 14-weeks pregnant might have children who suffer from slowed growth, Li said.

Li said the antiviral drugs given to Lin Mei-hsueh could hardly harm her baby because she was already 27-weeks pregnant when given drugs.

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