Mike and Amy Howard were beyond surprised when they went in for a routine ultrasound. The doctor surprised the couple with the news that they were not expecting one baby but in fact, they were expecting three, triplets. But things got even more shocking after the babies were born when the couple learned that the triplets all shared the same birth defect.
After Hunter, Jackson, and Kaden were born, it didn't take long for doctors to realize something was not right physically. Hunter and Jackson, the identical twins, skulls protruded in the back of their head. Their fraternal brother, Kaden, had a triangular shaped head along with a noticeably pointy forehead.
This rare condition is called Craniosynostosis. Craniosynostosis is a condition in which one or more of the fibrous sutures in an infant's (very young) skull prematurely fuses by turning into bone (ossification), thereby changing the growth pattern of the skull. Because the skull cannot expand perpendicular to the fused suture, it compensates by growing more in the direction parallel to the closed sutures. Sometimes the resulting growth pattern provides the necessary space for the growing brain but results in an abnormal head shape and abnormal facial features.
“Your skull is made up of plates, it’s not a single bone,” Dr. David Chesler, the pediatric neurosurgeon who operated on the boys, said. “If the seams join together too early, the brain can be put under pressure… That can be detrimental to the brain, the vision, the life of the child. It’s not imminently life-threatening, but it can cause real consequences down the road.”
This is the first case in history where all 3 triplets were diagnosed with the same rare birth defect. Craniosynostosis occurs in one in 2000 births. Craniosynostosis is part of a syndrome in 15 to 40% of the patients, but it usually only occurs in isolated cases.
This is completely unheard of for all 3 boys to have the same birth defect. Because Craniosynostosis can limit brain growth, the triplets needed corrective surgery fast. At just 11 weeks old these 3 made medical history. “I was very freaked out,” Mike Howard said. “Any time you have to put the baby [in an operating room], it’s a little crazy.”
The triplets did great with their operations and all 3 were back home in just 2 short days. The doctor sent the boys home with their own custom made orthotic helmets. They had to wear them for several months to mold their heads back to a normal shape. “It took them a little bit of time to adjust, but they don’t give me any problems taking them off or putting them back on at all,” Amy said. Here is a picture of what Kaden looked like before and after surgery.
Today the boys are doing great and the heads are a normal size and shape. Amy and Mike are enjoying life with their 3 healthy baby boys. “It’s a little chaotic. It’s awesome, I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it’s crazy,” Mike said. Watch the adorable video of Hunter, Jackson, and Kaden:
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