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Deformed child stirs heated debate in village

Villagers at the weekend thronged the home of a Standard Seven pupil after she delivered a deformed baby.

The baby, who was pronounced dead on delivery, had no eyes and ears, had a twisted mouth and the head was not fully developed. Most villagers blamed the deformities on witchcraft.

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The baby was delivered at St Mary’s Hospital-Mumias.

The residents of Sirigoi village in Navakholo Constituency said the 18-year-old girl dropped out of school after she was impregnated by her cousin, who is currently at large.

The married man is said to have taken advantage of the girl’s situation after her parents’ separated due to unending feuds.

But while some villagers blamed witchcraft for the deformities, others said the problem could have arisen as the child was a product of blood relatives, which is a taboo in the Luhya community.

However, health workers at the hospital dismissed both theories. The baby, they explained, suffered from a condition known as anencephaly, a birth defect in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull.

Maurine Awuondo, a midwife who helped deliver the baby, said the condition is a type of neural tube defect.

She said the condition happens if the upper part of the neural tube does not close all the way, resulting in a baby being born without the cerebrum, the front part of the brain. The remaining parts of the brain are often not covered by bone or skin.

She blamed the deformity on the expectant mother’s failure to go for medical check-ups.

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“Having regular antenatal check-ups is an important part of staying healthy and making sure your baby is healthy. Regular checks during your pregnancy can assist in identifying and reducing risks to either you or your baby,” said Ms Awuondo. [Nathan Ochunge]

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