Rick Santorum’s Daughter’s Diagnosis: What Is Trisomy 18?

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is facing some tough challenges both on the campaign trail and at home. His daughter Isabella, or “Bella,” 3, was hospitalized over the weekend with pneumonia, a common complication for children who are born with the rare genetic condition known as trisomy 18.

During a call with Florida voters on Sunday, Jan. 29, Santorum said his daughter was recovering: “She without a doubt has turned a corner.”

Trisomy 18 causes patients to have three copies of chromosome 18 instead of two. The additional DNA can lead to medical and developmental problems affecting the brain, heart and other organs, which make it difficult for most affected infants to survive past the first few weeks. Fifty percent of infants born with the disorder die within the first week of life. Only 5% to 10% of babies born with trisomy 18 survive their first year.

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