WMSN FOX 47
 

FOX 47 - Health News

In this week's Fox Focus on Health, a story about a special baby girl -- beautiful and tough -- and suffering from a debilitating disorder.



7-month-old Lucy Jean Zahn is a beautiful, smiley little girl. She also has spinal muscular atrophy -- a genetic disorder. About 1 in 6,000 babies are born with it.



The disorder happens when motor neurons of the brain and spinal cord stop functioning, and eventually die. These critical cells relay electrical and chemical messages to muscle cells. Without them, muscles can not function, and become smaller and weaker.



"This disorder is very rare, but she was born with it," said Mary Schroth, M.D., pediatrician at American Family Children's Hospital, and Lucy's doctor.



"She also has lost the ability to swallow, so she has a tube we feed her thru."



"She gets fed five times a day, thru a g-tube, it takes 45 minutes," said mother Barb Zahn. "In between we do physical therapy. She has a gym at home. We do stretches and everything."



And because she can not swallow, Lucy needs her mouth suctioned several times a day.



Otherwise mucus and saliva could choke her. Then there's the cough-assist machine which forces air in and out of her lungs to keep them clear, and a breathing mask she wears at night to keep oxygen flowing.



Round-the-clock care.



Lucy will never be able to sit up on her own, support her head, or use her legs. It's tough and grueling, for baby lucy and her parents -- Barb and Noah.



"She pretty much has to lay there most of the day, and really her only enjoyment is when she gets picked up and bounced," Noah said.



But there's cause for hope -- stem cell research.



Scientists have already discovered the gene responsible for SMA, the protein it makes, and a back-up gene that makes the same protein. Many scientists believe SMA has a greater chance of treatment or cure than any other genetic disease.



"The hope with stem cells is that we'll be able to inject cells that would become new ones and would rejuvenate those muscles," Dr. Schroth said.



These developments take money -- by some estimates, $20 million to $30 million dollars a year in research. For the Zahn family, money that could bring miracles.



Said Noah, "With proper funding this disease can be gone. So, Lucy and all the other kids out there with SMA won't have to go thru this and will live long, happy, fulfilling lives."



Dr. Schroth said without round-the-clock care, most babies die before age 2.



But with treatment, babies with SMA are living into well into school age years.



Lucy's Hope for a Cure:

http://lucyshopeforacure.homestead.com/Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Video List

Sun. - Fri. on FOX 47 News at 9!

Top Health Headlines (foxnews.com)

Scores of teenage girls in Colombian town struck by mystery illness

Authorities say they still don't know what caused more than 200 girls in El Carmen de Bolivar to come down with symptoms ranging from fainting to numbness in the hands and headaches.


4 first-aid remedies in your kitchen

Some of the best first-aid tools can be found in your kitchen. While you should always have some Band-Aids and first-aid ointment in your bathroom cabinet, there are some things in your house you may not have thought about that could help out in a health crisis


CDC flies home US staffer who had 'low-risk' Ebola contact

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday it flew an employee back to the United States from West Africa after the staff member came in contact with an international healthcare worker who later tested positive for Ebola.


Tomatoes may reduce prostate cancer risk, study says

Eating tomatoes may lower your risk for prostate cancer by nearly 20 percent, according to a U.K. study


Xenon gas exposure shows potential as PTSD treatment, study says

Xenon gas, normally used for anesthesia or diagnostic imaging, may treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to new research from McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass.


Advertise with us!

Tonight on FOX 47

5:00pm Two and a Half Men
5:30pm Big Bang Theory
6:00pm Modern Family
6:30pm Big Bang Theory
7:00pm So You Think You Can Dance
9:00pm FOX 47 News at 9
9:35pm Modern Family
10:05pm Two and a Half Men
10:35pm Everybody Loves Raymond
11:05pm The Arsenio Hall Show
12:05am Community


Complete FOX 47 Schedule

To FOX.com

Advertise with us!
IE6 Float Fix