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YOUR HEALTH | Miracle baby born after ultrasound found tumor in the womb

“Elizabeth’s story is quite unique in that her tumor was found in utero, so, we detected it before she was even born,” one doctor said.

ST. LOUIS — Brain tumors are the most common solid tumors in children. Approximately 4,000 children will be diagnosed with brain tumors each year. The five-year survival rate in kids is 74 percent. But the younger the child is, the chances of survival decrease — so what are the odds a child will survive when the brain tumor develops before birth?

Watching her little girl swing and slide, climb and walk is all Emily Murray has dreamed of.

“I found out I was pregnant right before the pandemic,” she said.

As a single woman who chose fertility treatments to start her dream of having a family, everything was going according to plan until an ultrasound at 36 weeks showed a mass in the middle of baby Elizabeth’s brain.

“Elizabeth’s story is quite unique in that her tumor was found in utero, so, we detected it before she was even born,” Dr. Jennifer Strahle, a pediatric neurologist at WashU/St. Louis Children’s Hospital, explained.

The age, size and location of the tumor were extremely rare.

“A teratoma is a type of tumor that contains multiple types of tissues. So, it can have hair and teeth, and tissues from all over,” Strahle further explained.

Elizabeth’s tumor was extremely large — about the size of a grapefruit. Born with fluid on the brain, Elizabeth started having seizures.

“Before we were able to take out the tumor, we had to perform surgery to drain those cysts,” Strahle said.

When Elizabeth was strong enough, another surgery was performed to remove the tumor.

“I said, ‘Well, hold on. How much of the tumor did you get?’ And she said, ‘Oh, I think we got the whole thing,'” Emily recalled.

Doctors believe the tumor may have caused right-side cerebral palsy.

“That side of her body has the most trouble with movement and muscle tone,” Dr. Lindsay Peglar Marsala said, who is a neonatal neurologist at the hospital.

Now, at two-and-a-half, Elizabeth is making great strides and catching up cognitively with her peers. The latest scans show that Elizabeth is tumor free – something her mom always dreamed of.

“It was scary, but it never felt impossible,” Emily said.

Elizabeth may always have weaker muscles on her right side, but it should not hold her back in any way. Doctors also have seen her brain mature and develop with time.

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