of the month
By Rich Petersen
Abraham Emiliano Ramírez Rivera
While this column has been on hiatus for a couple of months, Niños Incapacitados continues its work and fundraising activities to help reimburse low-income families for medical expenses incurred for their children with life-threatening, chronic diseases. Without our help—and yours—many of these families would be unable to pay for ongoing medications or medical tests and procedures to help their children lead a more normal life.
This bouncy happy guy is one-year old Albino Trinidad Gaytán Alejandre. Albino is the youngest of four children and lives with his parents and siblings in Ajijic. His Mom, Gabriela is a housewife and Dad, Jose Trinidad, is a mechanic.
As you can see in the photo, Albino’s head is not as big as you would expect for a one-year old. This is an anomaly known as microcephaly. I have written in the past about children born with hydrocephaly whose head size is much bigger than normal; microcephaly is just the opposite–the child’s head at birth is much smaller than normal and concomitantly the brain is much smaller. There is a risk of mental retardation, but not in all children, and many have normal mental development. Causes for this condition are varied, and include: exposure to hazardous chemicals/substances, exposure to radiation, lack of proper vitamins and nutrients in the diet, infection, prescription or illegal drug and alcohol consumption, and maternal diabetes. None of these factors seems to be present in Albino’s family, however.
Albino’s mother has been diligent in pursuing tests and opinions about her little boy’s condition, and so far it appears that he is progressing well, with no overt signs of mental retardation. In fact, he attends physical and developmental therapy sessions twice weekly at the DIF clinic in Chapala, and his Mom says she has noticed a lot of improvement in just the past two months. Mom has learned several therapy techniques to use at home so Albino doesn’t go one day without the proper stimulation and exercise.
There is no treatment for microcephaly that will return the baby’s head to a normal size or shape. Since microcephaly is a life-long condition that is not correctable, management includes focusing on preventing or minimizing deformities and maximizing the child’s capabilities at home and in the community. Positive reinforcement will encourage the child to strengthen his/her self-esteem and promote as much independence as possible. We’re hopeful Albino will grow and develop as normally as possible.
September means the start of Niños Incapacitados’ regular monthly meetings the second Thursday of each month at 10:00 a.m. in the garden area of La Nueva Posada. Please join us to learn more about the organization, attend a small business meeting, and every month meet in person one of the children we help. Also, look for announcements of upcoming fundraising events. The generosity of our members and friends of the organization is essential to our continued success, and we thank everyone here at Lakeside for their support.