A mysterious birth defect that often comes with a perfectly normal pregnancy is taking parents by surprise. The condition can kill up to 30% of children born with it. Now, there's a new way to help infants overcome it.
At breakfast time, it's hard to tell who's happier, Mark Cercy or his baby son Micah. Moments like this might not have been possible if Micah hadn't had life-changing surgery just six days after he was born. He had Pierre Robin syndrome. One out of every nine-thousand babies is born with the condition. They're jaws are severely undersized, causing their tongues to fall back and block their throats.
"It was crushing, just absolutely crushing to have something that you didn't know, you thought you'd prepared for everything," Mark Cercy, Micah's dad, said.
Traditional treatment for PRS is a tracheostomy to help breathing or external hardware to extend the jaw, but at Wolfson Children's Hospital, doctor Saswata Roy is doing something different.
"So these kids classically just like this baby, present with feeding issues and breathing issues," Saswata Roy, M.D., a pediatric craniofacial surgeon at Nemours Children's Clinic, explained.
To lengthen the jaw and open the airway, metal hardware is placed on the bone on both sides, then gradually extended over several weeks as new bone grows around it.
"As they lay down new bone, we keep extending the fracture farther and farther forward. In effect, we can reconstruct a normal shaped jaw in these babies," Dr. Roy said.
Now, thanks to the surgery, Micah can eat and breathe normally. An active little boy with a very bright future.
Doctor Roy says not only is this procedure safer and more effective for babies born with Pierre Robin, the long term costs are less than treating babies with tracheostomy. the causes of the defect are mainly unknown but doctors believe it is a genetic disorder.