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The BBC's Jane Warr
"Doctors said it was a miracle she survived"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 27 February, 2001, 10:28 GMT
'Frozen' baby comes back to life
Canadian miracle baby
The baby is recovering in intensive care
Doctors in Canada are wondering how a toddler has survived despite being exposed for several hours in a bitterly cold winter night wearing only her nappy.

To see her come back as rapidly and as intact and normal as she appears to be is incredible

Dr Allan De Caen
The 13-month old girl, who has not been identified, is now acting like any normal child of her age, although she was clinically dead when her mother called paramedics on Saturday morning after finding her curled up in the snow.

"She's very much aware of what's going on around her, she's making eye contact, she knows what is happening around her," said Dr Allan De Caen, the Stollery, Edmonton intensive care paediatrician who treated the infant.

Thermometer showing sub-zero temperature in Stollery
Temperatures have plunged in recent days
Apparently, the baby had crawled unnoticed out of her mother's bed during the night and wandered out onto a neighbour's backyard.

She was nearly "frozen solid" after her night out in the open at minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit). Paramedics were unable to insert a breathing tube into her mouth because it was frozen shut.

There is still a risk of frostbite and plastic surgeons will have to determine if some of the baby's fingers or toes will need to be amputated, Dr De Caen said.

Heart stopped

It is thought that the girl's heart had stopped beating for about two hours, but it started again by itself after doctors wrapped her in a special blanket to increase her body temperature back from the 16 degrees Celsius (61 Fahrenheit) to which it had dropped.

Yard where miracle baby was found
Footprints in the snow show where the child was found
"To see her come back as rapidly and as intact and normal as she appears to be at this point in time is incredible," Dr De Caen said.

Doctors theorised that the sudden massive drop in temperature could have saved her life, because young children tend to cool so quickly that their organs and their blood are preserved.

"As you cool down, you decrease the rate of using oxygen and energy so that cells within the body do not become either oxygen or energy depleted," said Dr Peter Cox of the Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto.

It is depletion of oxygen or energy that causes damage to the brain, he said.

Mother in shock

After coming off a breathing machine, the infant was taken to the paediatric intensive care unit at Stollery Children's Hospital.

Staff said she was interacting "much as you would expect a normal one year old child to do in that kind of environment".

As the daughter's physical condition improved, her 26-year-old mother was recovering of the mental trauma of the ordeal.

Police said they were treating the incident as an accident and there were no plans to file criminal charges.

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