A set of premature quadruplets progressed nicely during their third day of life Monday while enduring near-constant testing and intense scrutiny.
The weakest and smallest of the Miner infants, Jeffrey, improved with the help of a respirator that reduced the fluid in his lungs, but he remained in serious condition, UCI Medical Center spokeswoman Elaine Beno said.
The baby's trouble arises from a fetal blood vessel that was not closed at birth, a condition that creates a carbon dioxide imbalance, Beno said. An oscillating respirator reduced the fluid in his lungs and he was switched over to an ordinary respirator Monday, she added.
Doctors were optimistic that medication can be used to close the vessel, but there was a 20% to 30% chance that surgery would be required, Beno said.
Jeffrey, who is housed in the intensive care section of the hospital's Infant Special Care Unit, was receiving an intravenous solution of glucose and electrolytes, Beno said.
Across the hallway, his three siblings grew stronger, feeding on glucose and electrolyte solutions through tubes, Beno said. Jeffrey's brother, Vincent, and his two sisters, Brianna and Whitney, lay naked under warm, bright lights to help alleviate jaundice, a common newborn condition in which the skin and eyes take on a yellow cast.
Wires taped to each of the four infants monitored their vital signs and doctors frequently pricked them to draw tiny blood samples.
Karen Miner, 32, the Orange schoolteacher who bore the babies eight weeks early by Cesarean section at about 2:35 a.m. Saturday, was "very animated and upbeat" and felt well enough Monday to take a shower and stroll the hospital hallways, Beno said. Her 34-year-old husband, Al, a management consultant, alternated between visits to the nursery and to his wife.
Sunday night, the new mother got her first chance to hold one of the babies, Beno said. She was elated as she cuddled Whitney, the biggest of the four.
The couple declined interviews and photographs, sending word through hospital officials that they wanted to wait until Jeffrey improves further.
The infants are the first set of quadruplets in Orange County, and the second in California, to be born through the fertility technique known as GIFT, gamete intra-Fallopian transfer. In that method, a woman's egg and a man's sperm are placed inside her Fallopian tube to allow conception to occur where it does naturally.
In the Miners' case, four eggs were used to increase the chances that one would take. About one in 500,000 normal pregnancies results in quadruplets, UCI doctors said.