Most mothers get to take their newborns home a few days after they are born, but some have more of a challenge. Women who have premature babies or children born with special needs may have to wait weeks or even months to take their little ones home, and sometimes there will be extreme cases where a family will have to wait even longer to hold their baby outside of a hospital. Few families understand this better than the Willetts of Abilene, Texas, who are taking 2-year-old Adalynn home from the hospital for the very first time.
According to ABC News, the toddler was born with her intestines and liver outside her body, and has spent her entire life recovering inside the hospital.
"She is very excited to be home," her father, Bryan Willett, told ABC News. "She is full of joy."
Home for the first time
The news source reported that Adalynn was born with with a defect in the wall of her belly. This resulted in all of her intestines and liver forming outside of her body. This condition is called omphalocele, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 775 babies are born in the U.S. each year with this problem. The organs stick outside the belly through the belly button, and are covered by a thin sac.
Adalynn's form of omphalocele was particularly rare, because unlike most cases her entire intestine system was outside of her body, which is known as giant omphalocele. Only one out of every 10,000 babies born in the United States has this condition.
Doctors discovered that Adalynn had omphalocele during fetal development, and initially told her parents that she would have to stay in the hospital for three months. However, after she was born, it became evident that her condition was more serious than they had anticipated, which led to her 850 day hospital stay.
The staff at Cook Children's Medical Center in Texas preformed 28 surgeries on the child, and she also required many hours of physical therapy. A team of surgeons was finally able to put all of her intestines back inside her body, but she will still need a tracheotomy to relieve pressure on her lungs and an IV to help her get proper nutrition.
The staff made it clear that while they have been caring for Adalynn since she was born, they are excited that she is finally leaving the hospital.
"You'd think it is [bittersweet], but it is not," Adalynn's attending physician Nancy Dambro, M.D., told ABC News. "Her job is not to be here every day being cute and smiling at me and cheering me up on my rounds. Her job is to go home and become a productive human being."
The Willetts told ABC News that they are excited to spend this Christmas at home with Adalynn.
How to prevent omphalocele
While researchers are still not 100 percent sure of what causes this condition, they have discovered some factors that may increase a baby's risk for being born with it. For example, the CDC states that women who drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes during pregnancy are more likely to have a baby with omphalocele.
Also, overweight and obese women have a higher risk of giving birth to a child with this condition. Obesity has been associated with a number of pregnancy concerns such as a higher risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and gestational diabetes. This is why it's important for overweight women who are interested in becoming pregnant to consider losing weight beforehand to prevent these complications.
What steps have you been taking to prevent pregnancy complications? Do you know of any pregnancy exercises you would recommend? Share your answers below!