Health Beat

Health Beat: Baby octopus saves preemies

DALLAS - Baby Anthony was born at 25 weeks, a micro-preemie weighing only one pound, two ounces. Now, he's up to two pounds, seven ounces, thanks to good care in the neonatal intensive care unit and a special friend. 

"Now, Anthony has something to grab onto," father Anthony Flores explained.

Mother Marissa Flores agreed.

"Yeah, he wants to always pull the tubes out, so him being able to grab on the tentacles is just you know, comforting to him," she said. 

"The natural instinct is for the baby to grasp something, and so when they're grasping it, it makes them feel like they're holding onto the umbilical cord. Instead of grabbing hold of their breathing tube and pulling, they can grab hold of the tentacle of the octopus and just kind of hold onto that," said Keri Spillman, NICU clinical supervisor at Medical City Alliance.

"Octopus for a Preemie" started in Denmark and is spreading across the United States. Volunteers crochet the developmental tools to exact specifications to prevent choking and strangulation. A mother sleeps with the octopus first.

"I love it. I held him for the first time after 24 days yesterday, and so he was able to you know smell my scent," Marissa said.

"So they can smell their mom. They feel the tentacle. They feel at peace, and it helps them calm down," Spillman continued. "Because our babies are continuously monitored until the moment they go home, that's why it's OK for us to leave the octopus in the bed with the child, but we do not recommend they're left in the bed once the child goes home." 

The Floreses plan to keep it as a reminder and a keepsake for Anthony. 

"It's his little friend, you know," Marissa stated. 

Octopus for Preemies is a growing trend worldwide.

Parents should never allow their babies to handle the crocheted octopus without supervision.

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Allentown, PA 18102




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