Elizabeth Whitehead, a 21-year-old woman from New Jersey, got the shock of her life when a debilitating stomach ailment turned out to be a complication from a surprise pregnancy. Officers arriving on the scene were able to ensure the safety of both the mother and her child.
Police officer Vinnie Damiano arrived at the Barnegat Township residence to find both the child and mother on the home's front lawn. The child, who Damiano says appeared to be around three months premature, was not breathing, NBC Philadelphia reported.
Damiano and partner Michael Moore immediately began CPR to revive the infant who weighed in at around 2 lbs. Once the child began breathing again, both Damiano and Moore assisted ambulance personnel in clearing the child's airways before transporting the baby to Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin.
"Once I heard a little bit of the cry, it kind of made me jump a little bit," Moore told NBC Philadelphia.
Whitehead was also taken to Southern Ocean Medical for treatment to make sure no further health concerns persisted due to the premature birth. The child was ultimately transferred to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune to monitor progress.
Premature or preterm births are accompanied by a bevy of potential complications for both mother and child. For example, a premature child often experiences breathing obstruction due to an undeveloped respiratory system. This can in turn affect the child's neurological function if enough oxygen doesn't make its way to the brain. Hypotension, or a significant decrease in blood pressure, has also been linked to premature births.