FOR RELEASE: 8/16/2011Contact: John Cappiello, (203) 384-3637

Oxford girl, 1 lb. 8 oz. at birth, prepares for preschool

Three-year-old Isabelle Marjanovic of Oxford starts preschool in September and the neonatal experts at Bridgeport Hospital played a big part in preparing her, beginning on the day she was born—weighing just one pound, eight ounces.Isabelle Marjanovic

When Isabelle was born on May 21, 2008, her mother, Irene Garib, was only 24 weeks pregnant. Irene’s water broke on a Sunday. Despite the efforts of obstetrician Joseph Cuteri, MD, to delay Isabelle’s birth until she had grown bigger in the womb, Irene no longer had sufficient amniotic fluid to sustain the unborn child.

Irene gave birth to Isabelle on Wednesday. The baby was immediately admitted to Bridgeport Hospital’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit.

“Babies born at 24 weeks’ gestation are close to the limit of viability,” says Bridgeport Hospital Chief of Neonatology Robert Herzlinger, MD, who also serves as Medical Director of the Newborn ICU. “Only about 50 percent of babies born that early survive, according to National Institutes of Health data.”

“We knew the risk,” says Irene, who is a registered nurse. Her husband, Stevan Marjanovic, MD, is an obstetrician in Waterbury and was a former OB/GYN resident at Bridgeport Hospital.

“The more you know, the more afraid you are,” Irene says. “We worried about Isabelle’s weight—but she was a fighter and she hung in there.”

“The success rate for the survival and development of premature infants at Bridgeport Hospital is equal to or exceeds the rates at major academic medical centers in the United States,’ Dr. Herzlinger says.

Isabelle spent 11 weeks in the Newborn ICU. During her time there, the experienced physicians and staff of the unit used their skill and the latest medications and technology available to help premature babies grow and develop.

“We knew Isabelle was in very, very competent hands,” says Irene. “The staff made us feel comfortable and relaxed.”

When Isabelle was big enough and well enough, she finally went home with her parents and older brother Tristan, now 10. But Newborn ICU experts continued to care for her through their unique Follow-Up Program. Under the direction of neonatologist Christine Butler, MD, the program provides the necessary care and parental education to ensure that premature babies can develop to their full potential.

Now, as Isabelle gets ready to start preschool, her mother says she blends right in with other children her age.

“She’s your average three-year-old,” Irene says. “And we have the Newborn ICU to thank. I would recommend Bridgeport Hospital to anyone thinking of having a baby.”

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Part of Yale New Haven Health System, Bridgeport Hospital is a 383-bed acute care hospital (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital) serving parts of Fairfield and New Haven counties. The hospital admits more than 18,000 patients and receives more than 240,000 outpatient visits annually.