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Baby born without head

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By ARTHUR MORDAUNT - SWAZI TIMES-16-Jul-2009

MBABANE – There is a growing trend of children being born with deformities, one such being a baby that was born without a head in Swaziland.

According to the Ministry of Health, this case is not isolation, as public health institutions have recorded babies born without limbs, spinal cord or the internal organs protruding. The latest case of such deformities is that of conjoined twins who share the same body and vital organs but have separate heads.

Deputy Director of Health Services Dr Vusi Magagula confirmed the strange cases. He could not go into specifics regarding the statistics, as it would entail digging their files from the past financial year, which is a time-consuming exercise. The Deputy Director was responding to this newspaper after it had learnt from some nurses working in paediatric centres around the country had revealed the strange occurrence.

“We don’t really know how it happens but nature usually intervenes as most of these babies are usually still-born (born already dead),” said Magagula. He said the causes of such deformities could be many, part of which may be associated with HIV and AIDS. “We have always had still-born babies in our hospitals but the frequency with which it is occurring these days is alarming. The strange thing about this situation though is the increasing number of babies who are born with a variety of deformities,” said the doctor.

Magagula said the ministry was considering a number of options to address this problem, one of which was developing a policy that would compel expectant mothers to undergo ultrasounds (technology used to look inside a mother’s body to see an unborn baby). The doctor said this would help them detect the problem early so that they can seek medical advice while there was still time.

He said they were particularly concerned because of the high number of children that were born daily in the country. He stated, for instance, that on average, there were close to 100 children born every day in the country’s health facilities. Magagula only decried the fact that government still did not have enough equipment to successfully and effectively carry out this task.

About three weekends ago, a baby was born with two heads at Hlathikhulu Government Hospital in the Shiselweni region. The mother of the baby is said to have showed up at the hospital when she was due and the medical condition was only detected during child birth.


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