Health Check: Life-threatening condition affects newborns
Jennifer Henshall and her sister Christine Laliberte have a lot in common.
They each have a toddler.
Jennifer has a 2-year-old girl named Clara. Christine has a 3-year-old named Brody.
Both are pregnant too, and due only a couple of months apart.
But that’s where the similarities end.
For Jennifer, it all started on Nov. 25, 2009.
“I went into labor in the morning. I didn’t even realize it and seven hours of labor, a normal birth really,” Jennifer said. “I noticed a couple hours after Clara’s birth she had what I thought was a rash and some bruising on her back.”
Doctors did a complete blood count on Clara.
“Her platelet count was 14,000. Now, a normal platelet count is anywhere from 150,000 to 450,000 so anything under 30,000 is critical and she was well below the critical line,” Jennifer said.
Clara’s parents were tested and it turned out Clara had a condition called Neonatal Allo Immune Thrombocytopenia or NAIT.
“Which is basically a condition where my body recognizes her platelets, or the baby that I’m carrying’s platelets as foreign because my husband’s platelets and my platelet antigens, both antigens, are incompatible,” Jennifer said.
Clara, however, is doing well. She did require several infusions in the hospital shortly after birth.
Armed with information, Jennifer and her husband did their homework to help ensure it wouldn’t happen to the couple’s next baby.
Twice a week, a visiting nurse comes to Jennifer’s home to give her intravenous immunoglobulin, a blood product. It’s a five-hour process each visit, but is the only known treatment to reduce or eliminate the effects of NAIT.
Jennifer’s had some minor side effects, but with a smile she said, “it’s a small price to pay.”
Jennifer is due in April, but will have a C-section a month earlier to help avoid more serious complications.
NAIT affects one in 1,000 births.