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aruna
04-25-2006, 04:06 PM
Don't be mad at me for planning to do this; it's sad but it has to happen. Come on, it's only fiction; please help me anyway!

The scenario is this: a new mother has her baby taken away as a punishment, 3 months old. It's given to another woman to be looked after, and fed with diluted cow milk that may or may not be contaminated. The baby gets ill and is returned to the mother but it's too late, it dies anyway.

Can you help me make this realistic? What would the baby look like, how long would it take?

(Bet you didn't know I was so cruel????)

scfirenice
04-25-2006, 04:59 PM
OHHHHHHHHHHHHH aruna....Okay. I had a child in ICU once that was fed very diluted formula because the parents had no money (breastfeeding????) anyway. The baby clinically had very abnormal lab values, liver and kidney failure, etc. The baby was jaundiced from the liver failure, pale, thin, poor muscle tone, very weak cry, no tears, no wet diapers (kidney failure) you could see the ribs. The build up of toxins from the kidney failure caused labored breathing or "retraction" so that when the baby breathed the skin on the chest appeared to be sucking in and you could see ribs, both nostrils flared when breathing. This baby had not yet progressed to heart failure, but that would have been next which would have caused "motteling" of the skin or a patchy appearance to the extremities. The babies face might develop a bloated look from heart failure. I can give more details if you need them, pm me.

PS MY baby lived though it is thought he would have permanent brain damage.

jenngreenleaf
04-25-2006, 05:02 PM
Some DHS child protection cases are made public -- I wonder if you searched through newspaper archives or other news periodicals you might find something? Detective work is an exciting part of writing for me . . . I love the research . . . anyway, that's just a suggestion.

ColoradoGuy
04-25-2006, 06:12 PM
Iíve cared for more than a few children such as you describe. Scfirenice well describes what can happen. I would focus on several aspects. Severe malnutrition affects every organ in an infantís body. Any standard pediatric textbook would give you the descriptive details. The brain damage is usually lasting, the other stuff can resolve. The infants I have had in the PICU who have been fed diluted cowís milk had two main life-threatening problems: severe anemia (with about 80% of their normal red blood cells gone), and profound derangements in the blood chemistries, mainly sodium. These things caused heart failure and seizures. A key point is that correcting these abnormalities, the re-feeding period, can be extremely dangerous also. Both the anemia and the sodium abnormalities need to be corrected very slowly and carefully.

Again, any standard pediatric text would give you many details that would help. In the USA, the Nelson, Rudolph, or Oski texts are all good ones. I donít know what the UK ones would be, but any medical library would have them, I expect.

kmm8n
04-26-2006, 02:22 AM
Hmmm...as a Peace Corps volunteer, I worked in an orphanage that was located in a hospital. For reasons I won't go into, many of the orphans were sickly and constantly threw up their food. They were fed powdered milk mixed with boiling water. Sometimes it wasn't made correctly. It only takes a short time for a baby that young to get sick and die (or be starved). I would leave work on Friday and when I returned on Monday, count the babies to see if anyone was missing.

I remember trying not to get attached to any baby under 6 months, because the odds of survival weren't good.

I remember one baby (and I took a picture 'cause I was so angry-so if I can figure out how to hook up my scanner and you really want to see it...)

Anyway, she became very thin and you could see her skin stretched over her skeleton. She had a weak cry and didn't move very much. Her tiny fingers looked like sticks. I'm amazed that I can still picture this after almost twenty years.

The good news is that she survived. I don't know if she had any issues after that, because she was adopted. I do remember that the nun who worked with me lied about her age. She told the adoptive parents that the baby was four months old, when she was six months.

It's hard to remember this...but if you need any more information that I can provide, let me know.

:Headbang:

Tish Davidson
04-26-2006, 03:27 AM
If the milk/food is contaminated, the baby could also get severe diarrhea and die of dehydration. Infants get dehydrated incredibly quickly, and if not treated promptly, they have irreversible kidney failure.

aruna
04-26-2006, 09:15 AM
I remember one baby (and I took a picture 'cause I was so angry-so if I can figure out how to hook up my scanner and you really want to see it...)

Anyway, she became very thin and you could see her skin stretched over her skeleton. She had a weak cry and didn't move very much. Her tiny fingers looked like sticks. I'm amazed that I can still picture this after almost twenty years.


:Headbang:

How awful! ANd yes, I'd love to see that photo if you can bear to go to the trouble (I HATE hooking up scanners. I still have one I never used, I'm so scared of the process!)

Seeing an actual photo would I think infuse a bit more reality into the story...