An American baby has undergone surgery to correct her adult-size tongue.
The baby, Paisley Morrison-Johnson, was born 16 months ago. Doctors worried she would suffocate due to her unusually large tongue, a symptom of an overgrowth disorder. It threatened to block her airways and potentially choke her.
The baby from Aberdeen, South Dakota, was born with Beckwith Wiedemann Syndrome (BWS), a genetic condition that affects growth during childhood.
The most noticeable symptom is usually an oversized tongue, but many babies with BWS also have red birthmarks called “stork bites” on their foreheads. The condition is associated with an increased risk of cancer, especially liver and kidney tumours.
In Paisley’s case, her tongue grew so big it no longer fit in her mouth, affecting her ability to breathe and eat.
“Doctors tried bottle feeding her but they couldn’t find any nipple that would help her,” her mother Madison Kienow said to Caters News Agency.
“She had to have a (gastronomy)-tube fitted because not enough food was getting into her stomach,” she added.
When Paisley was just one-year-old, her parents scheduled the first tongue reduction surgery to help her be more comfortable. But not long afterwards, the muscle grew back to almost its original size. They decided to try again, this time removing more than six inches of her tongue.
“Since recovering, she smiled for the very first time. I couldn’t believe it and was shocked by how beautiful my little girl looked,” Kienow said. “Now she’s not even having difficulties eating, which is a massive relief.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, children with BWS need to be monitored regularly for tumors, but the risk of cancer drops at about 8 years old. Any fast or asymmetric growth also slows over time, so Paisley’s symptoms should slowly go away.
“She’s like a completely new baby — her facial features look different, she smiles a lot and she has even getting close to saying her first words,” Kienow said. “We’re really confident about her future.”