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Writer Carrie Vittitoe with her daughter Norah, who as a newborn was diagnosed with a neck abnormality.

What To Do If You Suspect Your Baby/ Young Child Has a Medical Issue Many medical problems are caught while a newborn is still in the hospital following delivery. If you have any concerns, bring them to the attention of the nurse or your pediatrician.


2 If something crops up in the first few months of life, consult your child’s pediatrician promptly. If your concern turns out to be nothing, then the money and time you have spent at the doctor’s office is worth your peace of mind. 3 If your child receives a diagnosis, use your networking resources to your benefit. Utilize Facebook, your mom group, or co-workers to try to find other parents who have dealt with similar situations with their own children. 4 If your child (from birth to age 3) has a developmental delay in speech, cognition, communication, physical, emotional, or self-help and would benefit from therapy, call First Steps at 877.417.8377. An evaluation will determine if your child meets the delay/ disability criteria. 5 If your child is age 3 or older, you can contact JCPS’ Early Childhood Special Services Program at 502.485.3979. Free screening tests are done at various sites in Jefferson County. 18

June/July 2012

Peggy McDonald, a mother of two young sons, was expecting a completely normal baby in 2008. When Gavin was born, he was almost perfect; he had ten toes and eleven fingers. Peggy handled this news with relative calm because she had a coworker who had delivered an infant with an extra digit. Peggy says, “Had I not known someone whose child had also had this, I definitely would have freaked out.” Since Gavin’s extra finger did not have a bone in it (hence the reason it didn’t show up on ultrasound), doctors were able to remove it easily. Another friend of mine, “Darcy,” also had a healthy baby boy in 2008. When he was about three months old, she noticed he had a strange body odor that was not the typical unpleasant odor that emanates from most infants during the course of the day. She thought she was imagining things but mentioned it to her son’s pediatrician anyway. An endocrinologist diagnosed her son with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a condition that, while not life threatening, can cause children to go through precocious puberty. Having never heard of this disorder or anyone whose child had it, she searched the Internet for as much information as she could find, which proved to be very frightening. Though her son’s condition is

“Had I not known someone whose child had also had this, I definitely would have freaked out.” mild and he is an active, fun-loving child, “Darcy” isn’t really sure what will happen as he matures and hormones kick in. Keri Brown had been a teacher and had professional experience related to students’ food allergies, but it was beyond scary when her eleven-monthold daughter, Bailey, experienced a serious reaction to a slice of cheese, especially since she hadn’t had any reaction the week prior when she first sampled the food. Keri says, “Bailey’s face was full of hives, one of her eyes was swollen nearly shut and her nose was running like crazy.” Soon after, Bailey was diagnosed with allergies to dairy, eggs, and peanuts. Keri remembers, “It felt like my stomach had dropped out of my body when I heard that last word (peanuts). I immediately knew, without a doubt, that my life as a mom had changed forever.” A few years later when Keri’s other two children were diagnosed with food allergies, she handled it with aplomb. The eight months that Norah did physical therapy was a very anxious time for me, but her torticollis was corrected without a need for more serious intervention. Norah’s torticollis, as well as her many colds and coughs and croups, made me better prepared for the imperfectly perfect sons I would have in 2007 and 2009, both of whom had mild torticollis and ear tube surgery their first year of life. There is good that comes from having perfectly imperfect babies, and that is the ability to help others when they go through similar experiences. When “Darcy’s” daughter was born last year with torticollis, I was able to offer her support and suggestions, to ease her mind that everything would turn out okay in the end. And that, like our babies in whatever form they come to us in, is a blessing. Carrie Vittitoe lives in Louisville with her husband Dean Langford and their kids Norah (8), Graeme (4), and Miles (2). She is a regular contributor to Today’s Family magazine. 4 4 4 4 4 /todaysfamily 4 4 4 @todaysfamilynow

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