Melinda Star Guido, Haydee Ibarra
Jae C. Hong  /  AP
Haydee Ibarra looks at her 14-week-old daughter, Melinda Star Guido. At birth, Melinda Star Guido tipped the scales at only 9 1/2 ounces, less than a can of soda.
updated 1/20/2012 9:35:47 AM ET 2012-01-20T14:35:47

One of the world's smallest surviving babies is headed home.

Melinda Star Guido weighed only 9 ½ ounces (.2 kilograms) at birth— less than a can of soda. After spending her early months in the neonatal intensive care unit, a team of doctors and nurses will gather Friday to see her off.

Melinda was born premature at 24 weeks in August at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. She is the world's third smallest baby and the second smallest in the U.S.

Melinda's mother, 22-year-old Haydee Ibarra, held her for the first time in November.

Now weighing 4½ pounds (2 kilograms), doctors said Melinda has made enough progress to be discharged. It's too early to know how she will fare developmentally and physically, but doctors planned to monitor her for the next six years.

Photos of baby Melinda at birth and at 14 weeks

Most babies this small don't survive even with advanced medical care. About 7,500 babies are born each year in the United States weighing less than 1 pound (.4 kilograms), and about 10 percent survive.

A study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2010 found that many survivors have ongoing health and learning concerns. Most also remain short and underweight for their age.

There are some rare success stories. The smallest surviving baby born weighing 9.2 ounces (.2 kilograms) is now a healthy 7-year-old.

Palm-sized preemie almost ready to go home

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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