For years doctors in the US made little attempt to save the lives of premature babies, but there was one place distressed parents could turn for help - a sideshow on Coney Island. In the 1870s, the French obstetrician Tarnier went to the zoo and noticed an incubator for the raising of chicks. He asked its producer to build one capable of holding premature infants, and by the 1890s incubator exhibitions had spread across Europe and the United States. But the most famous one in America was Dr. Couney's exhibition at Coney Island, which ran from 1903 to 1943.
"Premature babies born at the edge of viability force us to debate the most difficult questions in medicine and in life. After just 23 weeks of pregnancy, Kelley Benham found herself in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with a daughter born so early neonatologist doctors would call her a "micro preemie." New technologies can sometimes keep micro preemies alive, but many end up disabled, some catastrophically so. Whether to provide care to these infants is one of the fundamental controversies in neonatology. This is the story of how Benham and her husband, Tom French, made the difficult choice: Fight for the life of their micro preemie baby or let her go?" [more inside]