Malawi woman delivers baby without scalp, brain exposed

Baby born without scalp brain exposed parents conserted to  Nyasa Times to have photo taken
Baby born without scalp brain exposed parents conserted to Nyasa Times to have photo taken

A 19 year old woman in Malawi’s northern region district of Rumphi,  Martha Mkandawire has delivered a baby born without a scalp and an underdeveloped skull that exposes the brain, a rare birth defect that has stunned medics at Rumphi district hospital.

Mkandawire delivered her baby on Wednesday at around 2:30 pm through caesarian section.

District health officer (DHO) Dr Gift Kawaladzira confirmed the incident in an interview with Nyasa Times, saying the baby was a fully matured 9 months baby.

According to Dr Kawaladzira, the baby has a congenital abnormality called neurotube defect (NTD) which affects the head, brain and spinal cord.

Said Dr Kawaladzira: “If the abnormality affects the head and brain it is called  neurotube defect while if the affected part is the spinal cord it is called spina befida.”

The doctor said this is a rare case which happens when the neurotube fails to close during the early stages of pregnancy.

He said among others, the neurotube fails to close due to lack of micronutrients such as folic acid (vitamin b) which helps in the production of new cells.

Dr Kawaladzira said the baby has slim chances of survival as many cases of neurotube defects ends in still births or a baby dies soon after birth.

He said cases such as these could be prevented if women were eating foods fortified with folic acid or take supplements in addition to eating eating folate-rich foods during the early and later stages of pregnancy.

Speaking in an interview with Nyasa Times the baby’s mother blamed her child’s fate on witchcraft. This was her first pregnancy.

“My baby has been be-witched. This is the work of witches,” she said as she consented to Nyasa Times to take the baby’s picture and post it online

Mkandawire comes from Chinthambwila village in the area of traditional; Authority Mtwalo in Mzimba district.

This incident comes barely two weeks when another woman in Salima,  Jamira Manduwa delivered a baby with strange features, a condition that was identified as “Harlequin Ichthyosis”.

The baby was later referred to Kamuzu central hospital where she died.

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