Little "Manning Baby A," a 2-pound, 14-ounce girl born first among quadruplets four days ago, was reported in critical condition and fighting for her life against a respiratory disease last night at Washington Hospital Center.
Largest of the quads born nine weeks permaturely to Beatha and Joseph Manning, the baby was stricken by hyaline membrane disease, a condition in which a glassy, skinlike substance blocks oxygen transfer in the lungs.
The other three infants are also suffering from the disease but in a milder form. Two of the three, as well as "Baby A", were breathing last night with the aid of respirators, according to hospital spokeswoman Jane Snyder.
Joseph Manning III, the only boy in the set of quadruplets, was also listed in critical condition, but was faring better than his sister, Snyder said. The other two baby girls' conditions were more stable, she said.
Hyaline membrance disease, which was fatal for President Kennedy's third child, Patrick, in August, 1963, is common among premature infants because the lungs need nearly the full term of pregnancy to develop. It strikes multiple birth infants more severely, doctors have found.
Washington Hospital Centers newborn department, headed by Dr. Milton Werthmann who was attending the quads last night, has the fifth-lowest mortality rate from hyaline disease in the country, according to Snyder.
Snyder said the hospital has developed an air pressure method to help premature babies who lack the strength to force sufficient oxygen into their lungs.
Mrs. Manning, who gave birth to the quads by cesarean section early Tuesday, was reported as well at the hospital yesterday.