Mreroni, Jomvu Constituency, Kenya. August 29th: A baby girl who was born on Sunday, August 27, with no eyes and deformed nostrils in Kenya has died of starvation after her mother, Ms Mariam Mwakombo, 22, refused to breastfeed her. Her nose was on the upper side of her face. According to the family, the mother, Ms Mariam Mwakombo, 22, refused to breastfeed her because she was afraid. The baby cried for hours after birth due to hunger and later died at night.
Mariam Mwakombo told reporters: “She frightened me. I have never seen such a human being.” Ms Mwakombo’s husband, Hassan Kitoto, said he too could not comprehend why God gave him such a child.
“I am equally scared. I have never seen such a human being. Whatever the elders will decide let it be,” he said. Ms Mwakombo had only attended two antenatal care clinics at a public hospital in Kilifi before giving birth prematurely to the baby at home.
The villagers and family members wanted to throw the baby in a dungeon to let the ‘gods’ take care of her. But after she died they buried her outside her parents’ home to ward off bad omen associated with such a child.
Mariam Mwakombo said: “Hospitals are very far and I couldn’t afford the clinic at private hospitals. I used traditional methods. My water broke while I was doing my chores and she just came out. She’s seven months old.
I never felt any pains during her birth. But on looking at her, we realized she did not have eyes. I was dumbfounded. The best we could do was throw her in a dungeon in a forest. I did not name her. I could not breastfeed her lest the omen falls on me”.
Some doctors suspect the child was born with a condition known as anophthalmia. It is a condition in which one or both eyes do not form during pregnancy.
Facts About Anophthalmia and Microphthalmia
This information was developed by the National Eye Institute to help patients and their families search for general information about anophthalmia and microphthalmia. An eye care professional who has examined the patient’s eyes and is familiar with his or her medical history is the best person to answer specific questions.
Anophthalmia and Microphthalmia Defined
Anophthalmia and microphthalmia are often used interchangeably. Microphthalmia is a disorder in which one or both eyes are abnormally small, while anophthalmia is the absence of one or both eyes. These rare disorders develop during pregnancy and can be associated with other birth defects.
Causes and Risk Factors For Anophthalmia and Microphthalmia
Causes of these conditions may include genetic mutations and abnormal chromosomes. Researchers also believe that environmental factors, such as exposure to X-rays, chemicals, drugs, pesticides, toxins, radiation, or viruses, increase the risk of anophthalmia and microphthalmia, but research is not conclusive. Sometimes the cause in an individual patient cannot be determined.
Treatment for anophthalmia and microphthalmia ?
There is no treatment for severe anophthalmia or microphthalmia that will create a new eye or restore vision. However, some less severe forms of microphthalmia may benefit from medical or surgical treatments. In almost all cases improvements to a child’s appearance are possible. Children can be fitted for a prosthetic (artificial) eye for cosmetic purposes and to promote socket growth. A newborn with anophthalmia or microphthalmia will need to visit several eye care professionals, including those who specialize in pediatrics, vitreoretinal disease, orbital and oculoplastic surgery, ophthalmic genetics, and prosthetic devices for the eye. Each specialist can provide information and possible treatments resulting in the best care for the child and family. The specialist in prosthetic diseases for the eye will make conformers, plastic structures that help support the face and encourage the eye socket to grow. As the face develops, new conformers will need to be made. A child with anophthalmia may also need to use expanders in addition to conformers to further enlarge the eye socket. Once the face is fully developed, prosthetic eyes can be made and placed. Prosthetic eyes will not restore vision.
How do conformers and prosthetic eyes look?
A painted prosthesis that looks like a normal eye is usually fitted between ages one and two. Until then, clear conformers are used. When the conformers are in place the eye socket will look black. These conformers are not painted to look like a normal eye because they are changed too frequently.
Photo: Mariam Mwakombo starves her baby born without eyes to death
Every few weeks a child will progress to a larger size conformer until about two years of age. If a child needs to wear conformers after age two, the conformers will be painted like a regular prosthesis, giving the appearance of a normal but smaller eye. The average child will need three to four new painted prostheses before the age of 10.
How is microphthalmia managed if there is residual vision in the eye?
Children with microphthalmia may have some residual vision (limited sight). In these cases, the good eye can be patched to strengthen vision in the microphthalmic eye. A prosthesis can be made to cap the microphthalmic eye to help with cosmetic appearance, while preserving the remaining sight.
The National Eye Institute (NEI) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and is the United State government’s lead agency for vision research that leads to sight-saving treatments and plays a key role in reducing visual impairment and blindness.