How common household product saved 'miracle' premature baby's skin

A commonly bought household item has helped give a premature Perth baby, born at just 23 weeks, a chance of a “miracle” survival, guarding her from potentially deadly bacteria.

Kimberley Phillips was only halfway through her pregnancy when her waters broke. The Aveley mum  gave birth to little Isabella, who weighed in at just 540 grams.

Doctors said they would not have worked to save the premmie baby had she arrived two days sooner.

Little Isabella weighed 540 grams when she was born at just 23 weeks. Source: 7 News

It was Isabella’s skin that was the biggest concern for the doctors, who rated her chance of survival as one in a million.

But today the 16-month-old continues to stun doctors – she’s healthy and developing just like any other little girl.

Researchers believe coconut oil may have played a part in Isabella’s survival.

“Because they’re born so prematurely, their skin is only made to support them inside the womb, not outside,”research clinician Dr Tobias Strunk said.

“Their skin is underdeveloped, it’s really thin.”

Coconut oil helped give Isabella a chance at survival, guarding her from potentially deadly bacteria. Source: 7 News

It is how bacteria gets into their tiny bodies, often causing disabilities, or even death.

Perth researchers are now looking into how they can coat and protect the skin of other premmie babies using coconut oil.

“We have done a pilot trial that has shown that coconut oil indeed improves skin condition in extremely pre-term babies,” Dr Strunk said.

Not only does it protect and nourish the skin, it also has antibacterial qualities.

Today 16-month-old Isabella, playing with mum Kimberley Phillips, is healthy and developing just like any other little girl. Source: 7 News

Researchers have found the product can protect the delicate skin of the tiniest babies – guarding them from potentially deadly bacteria.

Be part of the research

This Telethon weekend, you can be part of this research by providing skin swabs to help develop new interventions for the skin of WA’s tiniest babies.

Visit the Telethon Kids Institute stand at the Expo to have a swab so researchers can see what bacteria lives on the skin, and whether coconut oil or other coatings could provide the protection these babies need.

It certainly worked for Isabella.