Reporting Kimberly Gill
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A picture of Georgia Cullen shows her weighing one pound at one week old.
Her father’s wedding ring fit around her wrist.
She developed a condition called necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC.
“Georgia had to be delivered very early at 26 weeks and three days,” said her father Jim Cullen. “Although she started her life perfectly, her intestines were not developed enough and she developed something called NEC.”
NEC is a condition where the premature baby’s intestinal tissue dies.
Doctors have to remove that portion of the intestines–and up until now–only half the babies survived.
But new research shows an ingredient in breast milk can be used to prevent and treat this disease.
Dr. David Hackam is Georgia’s doctor and the head author of this research at Pittsburgh’s Children’s Hospital.
“Breast milk has something other formulas don’t have and that’s a component called sodium nitrate,” said Hackam. “And so what you’re doing when you’re able to give breast milk to babies is you’re helping blood go to all the good areas and when that doesn’t happen NEC develops.”
And though every day is a battle for little Georgia and her family, she continues to fight to get better.
“She’s gone from a scary condition to really surprising how well she’s doing this week,” Cullen said.
It’s hoped this discovery will not only help Georgia, but other premature babies to prevent NEC.