“So Tiny and Lovely”

In August 2018, a boy was born with a weight of just 268 grams at a Tokyo hospital. Doctors had performed an emergency Caesarean section, having feared for his life as he did not gain weight during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. On February 20, 2019, the healthy baby—the smallest newborn boy on record as surviving—was discharged from the hospital to go home with his relieved parents.


In general, newborn babies in Japan weigh somewhere between 2,100 and 3,760 grams, but this boy was approaching 10 times smaller than the low end of that range. Six months after his birth, however, he looks like any other adorable youngster.

The boy after Caesarian delivery. (Courtesy Keiō University Hospital)
Adult hands give some idea of just how small the boy was. (Courtesy Keiō University Hospital)

Speaking to Fuji Television on March 22, a month after the boy was discharged, his mother talked of her feelings after the birth. “He was so tiny and lovely. I was worried that he wasn’t making any sound, but he looked like he was trying so hard . . .” She described how her hands shook at first when she was cutting his nails.

“We were overjoyed to finally bring him home,” the boy’s mother said. “We’d been looking forward to it, so we were thrilled,” his father added.

Days of Anxiety

The boy weighed a bouncing 3,268 grams by the time he was discharged. Yet the pregnancy and the time around his birth were days full of anxiety and trouble. “I kept having such terrible thoughts,” his mother said. “I cried because I was sorry I couldn’t give him a normal birth.” His father commented, “We couldn’t both cry, so I worked hard to try and encourage her.”

After the boy was born, his parents felt some sense of relief. “We thought it was going to be hard, but at the same time we were so happy.” They want to raise him at his own pace, without rushing.

(Courtesy the baby’s parents)

According to a statement from Keiō University Hospital, where the boy spent months in care, there is a survival rate of around 90% for newborn babies under 1,000 grams. This drops to less than 50% for children under 400 grams, and decreases even further when the birthweight is below 300 grams. In all of these cases, the risk of complications or disease rises.

(Originally broadcast in Japanese on FNN’s Prime News Evening March 22, 2019. Translated by Nippon.com.)

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