Monday, April 9, 2012

Rick Santorum's Daughter: What is Trisomy 18?

By Ivana Kvesic

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum took time off of his busy campaign trail this past weekend to visit his 3-year-old daughter Isabella, or "Bella," at a Philadelphia hospital.

The youngest child of the GOP hopeful was hospitalized due to complications with a genetic disorder known as Trisomy 18.

Trisomy 18 is a genetic disorder in which an individual has three copies of the 18th chromosome, as opposed to two.

The disorder presents significant health challenges and most children, an estimated 90 percent, do not survive their first year of life due to the condition. Those who do survive suffer significant health complications.

The disorder interferes with the normal development of the child and tends to cause irregularities in vital organs including the brain and heart.

Trisomy 18 is also known as Edwards syndrome and is named after British medical geneticist John H. Edwards, who first described the syndrome back in 1960. The syndrome causes symptoms including clenched hands, crossed legs, the underdevelopment of fingernails, mental deficiency, and microcephaly.
The condition is common across the United States. One out of every 3,000 live births involves a child with Trisomy 18. Although prenatal testing can detect the condition, it remains unclear what causes the condition, which is more prevalent among girls than boys.

"A simple cold can kill her, and it almost did this weekend," Santorum told conservative radio host Glenn Beck on his show on Monday.

Santorum resumed his campaign in Missouri on Monday after Bella's condition went from near fatal to "miraculous turnaround."

"She had a very tough go of it, but yesterday afternoon she rallied, and she's on the mend," Santorum said. "We are feeling very, very blessed, I just want to thank everybody for their prayers."

At three-years-old, Bella Santorum is already considered a medical exception do to her rare endurance with the debilitating condition. 

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