Well over three kilograms in weight, the baby boy was born late Friday in the DHQ at Gilgit.
The couple hailing from NWFP apparently worried over the ‘incident’ looked all day at each and every visitor coming to see the ‘wonder’ of the nature and replied their queries patiently. “Yes we have four other children and all are normal,” said the couple. By mid-day, the hospital administration finally decided to stop any more visitors.
Dr Iftikhar Ahmed, a child specialist, currently treating the abnormal child had another story to tell. “The baby is simply affected by a skin disease medically known as Harlequin-type ichthyosis, nothing so unusual,” said the doctor, adding that he himself treated similar four such cases while he was in the PIMS. “Yes the chance of survival in such cases is very minimal, maximum up to a month,” he said. He said that for sheer lack of medical knowledge, people and media made a mountain out of a molehill by comparing the child with tiger and other wild animals.
He said that in such patients, the skin contains massive, diamond-shaped scales, and tends to have a reddish colour.
Dr Iftikhar said that this mutation makes the skin hard with thick scales. He said eyes, nose, mouth and ears are affected, often pulling the baby’s mouth wide open as in the case of the child admitted to the hospital in Gilgit. This hard skin, he added, does not keep moisture in, causing dehydration and disrupts the body’s ability to regulate temperature. It can also make chest movement and breathing difficult. In addition, the eyes, ears, mouth, and other appendages may be abnormally contracted.