A baby who weighed less than a can of soda when she was born by Caesarean section (search) three months ago is nearly ready to be released from the hospital. She is believed to be the smallest baby in the world ever to survive.

The little girl, named Rumaisa, weighed 8.6 ounces when she was delivered Sept. 19. That is 1.3 ounces smaller than the previous record holder, also born atLoyola University Medical Center (search) in 1989, spokeswoman Sandra Martinez said Monday.

The newborn is doing so well that she is expected to be released from the hospital as early as the first week of January. She was 9 3/4 inches long at birth, or about half as long as a full-term baby.

"All indications are there's an excellent prognosis for a normal development," said Dr. Jonathan K. Muraskas, a specialist in newborn care at Loyola, in Maywood.

Doctors delivered Rumaisa and her twin sister when their mother was about 26 weeks pregnant. Normal gestation is 40 weeks. But the mother had developed high blood pressure (search) that was affecting her health and Rumaisa's.

Rumaisa now weighs 2 pounds,10 ounces said. Rumaisa's twin, named Hiba, weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces at birth, and is now about 5 pounds.

The babies were conceived naturally by a 23-year-old Hanover Park woman, Martinez said. The couple are from India. Rumaisa means "white as milk" in India, while Hiba means "gift from God," according to the hospital.

Ultrasound (search) tests have shown that Rumaisa has a normal head and there was no bleeding in the brain — a common complication for such premature babies that can raise their risk of cerebral palsy.

The hospital held a news conference Tuesday to introduce the babies and their parents.