World first: Belgian hospitals treated abnormality of baby in the womb

World first: Belgian hospitals treated abnormality of baby in the womb
Credit: Canva

Belgian hospitals used a drug to treat a lymphatic abnormality in a child that had not yet been born – a world first. Six years on, the child is living a normal life.

A mother and her child have been monitored for the last six years after the baby was found to have a severe lymphatic abnormality while in its mother's womb. The doctors treated the malformation with the drug Sirolimus, which was administered directly to the mother during pregnancy for the first time in the world.

The deformity decreased significantly between the 29th and 34th week of pregnancy and the baby was born successfully and without any complications. Both the mother and child have been monitored ever since.

Medical miracle

At just 11 months, the baby had to receive sclerotherapy – an injection of a drug into the abnormal vessels to dry them up. The child also underwent surgery at 15 months. Now, the child is living a normal life and doing well.

The results of the treatment were published in the medical journal Nature Cardiovascular Research last Thursday and UCLouvain university described the procedure as a "medical tour de force".

For the treatment, teams from the Saint-Luc University Hospital's Vascular Abnormalities and Obstetrics Departments have been collaborating with UCLouvain's de Duve Institute since 2016.

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"This is a major step forward for the treatment of foetuses suffering from significant vascular malformations," UCLouvain stated. This breakthrough has triggered "many innovations in other disciplines about the possibility of starting treatments as soon as possible".

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