When she was born, Melinda Star Guido was so small she could fit into the palm of any adult and so light (9.5 ounces) she was barely felt. She is one of the smallest babies ever born and is the second smallest baby born in America.

She was born prematurely, to Yovani Guido, 24, and Haydee Ibarra, 22, at the Los Angeles County /USC Medical Center, on Aug. 30. The baby has been nurtured in an incubator, in the facility's neonatal intensive care unit, since then and, to the surprise and relief of both the parents and the doctors, she has shown progress and growth; a state of affairs the medical authorities were unsure would come about, given the fact that most babies born under such conditions do not survive. The best news - the baby and her mother, if all goes according to schedule, will be discharged by the New Year.

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Photo Credit: Reuters. Melinda Star Guido is shown in an incubator at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in Los Angeles in this undated photograph released to Reuters December 15, 2011. Guido was born August 30, 2011 weighing 270 grams (9.5 ounces), making her the world's third-smallest baby. The baby weighs about 4 lbs (1.8 kg) currently and doctors are preparing to send her home as soon as the end of the month.

The infant, who now weighs a more respectable 4 pounds, was delivered through a surgical intervention, at just 24 weeks, following internal complications - apparently her mother, Ibarra, suffered from high blood pressure.

The first few weeks, it was touch and go. None of us thought the baby was going to make it, said Dr. Rangasamy Ramanathan, the Chief of the Neonatology section of the hospital.

Fortunately for Melinda, her parents had faith in her and they asked their doctors to undertake a high-risk Caesarean operation.

They said, 'We'll take the chance. Please try.' So we said. 'OK we'll try,' Dr. Ramanathan recalled.

It takes a lot of good care and a lot of good luck. Most of them don't survive, paediatrician Dr. Edward Bell told USA Today.

Incidentally, according to reports, most underweight and small-sized infants that survive to adulthood are usually females. Apparently, the reason is the faster development of the female foetus, compared to males of the same gestational age.

One of the two other smallest surviving babies is now 7 years old (the child weighed 9.2 ounces at birth) and the other is a healthy teenager.