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Diagnosis of a Congenital Disorder


Author(s)

Patrick R. Field
Department of Biological Sciences
Kean University
pfield@cougar.kean.edu
Paula Cobos
School of Natural Sciences / Biological Sciences
Kean University
Cheylena Williams
School of Natural Sciences / Biological Sciences
Kean University

Abstract

This progressive disclosure case study explores the medically-related issues of a female infant born with the congenital disorder Sirenomelia, more commonly known as "Mermaid Syndrome." The case starts with a high-risk mother participating in prenatal testing, which reveals a caudal vascular malformation in the fetus, but is not conclusive as to the extent of the deformity. Upon birth, the infant presents with a fusion of the lower extremities and compromised thoracic and abdomino-pelvic viscera. Students are confronted with various medical decisions in each part of the case that could determine the fate of the young girl as a fetus, an infant, and a pre-adolescent. The case can be used in undergraduate allied human health courses that include medical ethics such as introductory biology, human anatomy and physiology, and genetics. It would be suitable for undergraduate pre-professional biology majors, including, for example, pre-medicine, pre-physical therapy, pre-occupational therapy, and pre-physician assistant majors.


Objectives

  • To learn the different procedures for prenatal testing and in which trimester each could be administered.
  • To present and distinguish the various types and causes of congenital disorders.
  • To introduce the disorder Sirenomelia by studying its most well-known case.
  • To discuss the ethics associated with a minor's right to decide his/her own treatment for a fatal congenital disorder.

Keywords

Prenatal screening; prenatal tests; prenatal care; pregnancy; ultrasound; amniocentesis; abortion; congenital disorder; birth defect; Sirenomelia; Mermaid Syndrome; Shiloh Pepin; bioethics

Topical Areas

Ethics

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division

Format

PDF

Type / Methods

Directed, Discussion, Interrupted

Language

English

Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Genetics / Heredity  |   Medicine (General)  |   Nursing  |   Physiology  |  


Date Posted

11/17/2011

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