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5 Things About Trisomy 18 & How it Affects Rick Santorums Daughter

Rick Santorum and Family

Trisomy 18 becamethe number one searched phrase on Google on Monday morning. Why? Because Presidential candidate Rick Santorum‘s youngest child Bella has this devastating genetic disorder. The 3-year-old girl had been hospitalized for the treatment of pneumonia and Santorum cancelled several appearances in Florida to be by his daughter’s side.  So what is Trisomy 18 and how does it affect Rick Santorum’s daughter? Here are five things about the genetic disorder:

• Trisomy 18 also known as Edwards syndrome – is when there are three copies of the 18th chromosome instead of just two. The extra material interferes with normal development. Due to the extra chromosome, there are issues with the development of the brain, heart and other internal organs.

• Trisomy 18 has a similar etiology to Down Syndrome, which is known as Trisomy 21.

•  It’s a deadly genetic disorder, about half the children that are born with the condition die within the first three months of their lives and about ninety percent will die in their first year. Rick Santorum’s daughter has beaten the odds at the age of three. Some children with Trisomy 18 have survived to see their teenage years, but not without serious medical and developmental problems.

• Trisomy 18 is usually “almost always diagnosed prenatally, and those pregnancies are almost always terminated.” But Rick Santorum’s family embraced the challenge of raising a special needs child.

• Bella Santorum has had many surgeries to manage her symptoms. She spent much of her first year of life in the hospital and since has mostly been cared for at home. The family has most of the medical equipment they need at their house due to the risk of infection in a hospital setting. Bella was admitted to the hospital with a case of double pneumonia. But now it is being reported that she is in the midst of recovery.

Photos: Rick Santorum.com

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