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Health Watch: Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Awareness Day

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- It's a day to raise awareness about a condition that many of us have never even heard of, but is as common as spina bifida and cystic fibrosis. Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl is On Your Side with the story of a little girl who is defying the odds.

A baby is born with this disorder every ten minutes. It's called Congenital Diaphramatic Hernia, and this is the awareness day for it. Local doctors and families hope to raise awareness and money for research to give these children a fighting chance.

It's Peyton Laricks third birthday. She's healthy, vibrant now. It's a far cry from how she was the day she was born.

"There's no words to describe how it felt. She's a fighter, and she just kept fighting," said Debbie Laricks, Peyton's mother.

Peyton suffered from a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, that was diagnosed before she was born. Her first few months of life were a constant battle. She was hooked up to machines and underwent surgeries that saved her life.

"It affects a child early in development by having a hole in the diaphragm, which allows the things that are supposed to be in the belly move up in to the chest," said Dr. Holly Hedrick, a Pediatric Surgeon at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.  And that prevents the lungs from developing properly.  Dr. Hedrick says more research is needed to better understand the disorder.

"Anything that we can do to raise awareness will help raise research dollars and help make the outcomes better," said Dr. Hedrick.

The goal is for more children with the diagnosis to end up like Peyton, healthy. Dr. Hedrick hopes a promising experimental fetal surgery may help.

"It's something that we hope to do at Children's Hospital shortly," said Dr. Hedrick.

Peyton's parents are thrilled about her progress, and excited about a new, encouraging treatment.

"To prevent any baby going through what she went through would be absolutely amazing," said Debbie.

About 20 percent of children with the condition die, others can live with difficulty.  The cause is unknown. It's typically picked up on ultrasound before a baby is born.


Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Information
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Center For Fetal Diagnosis & Treatment
Peyton's Promise

Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3

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