Child Of The Month
By Rich Petersen
Vanesa V. R.
This is six-month old Vanesa, a newcomer to Niños Incapacitados.She lives in La Canacinta with her parents, Carla and Abraham. Carla works part-time in a cactus nursery and Abraham is a busboy at Ajijic Tango. Even though both are so young, they are very involved in their little girl’s care and treatment.
Vanesa was born with Down Syndrome, of which we see a lot in Mexico. In the U.S. the ratio of children born with Down syndrome is approximately 1 in 690; here that ratio climbs to 1 in 450. Some people equate this difference with poor healthcare in general, and of course poor prenatal care. But, Down Syndrome has no connection to anything in either parent as it is a chromosomal defect and occurs at conception—the child has one extra chromosome, 47 instead of 46. This extra chromosome results in several identifying physical characteristics, among them, low muscle tone, a single crease across the palm of the hand, a slightly flattened facial profile and an upward slant to the eyes. Vanesa’s photo shows a couple of these characteristics.
What is important to know is that the earlier treatment and other therapy are started, the better chance the child has of leading a more normal life. It is important to keep in mind that Down children are more like other children than they are different.
Several health issues are associated with Down syndrome: heart defects, respiratory, vision and hearing problems, and thyroid problems. Vanesa suffers from a heart murmur which is being monitored by her doctors. She also is lactose intolerant and has to drink a special formula. The latter is one of the reasons her parents brought her to Niños Incapacitados—to assist them in purchasing this expensive milk substitute.
So far Vanesa is doing very well and of course we hope this continues to be the case. At our last monthly meeting, she was happy and alert and rewarded us with several smiles and gurgles.
If you would like to meet other children being helped by Niños Incapacitados, please attend our regular monthly meetings on the second Thursday of each month in one of the meeting rooms at the Hotel Real de Chapala in La Floresta. Coffee and cookies at 10:00, meeting at 10:30. Bring a friend. You will learn how you can volunteer in many different ways and how your monetary support helps so much to assist needy families whose children suffer from a chronic and/or debilitating illness or condition.