Medical Mystery: The Baby Who Wouldn't Grow

Docs are baffled by a 14-month-old baby who weighs only as much as a newborn.

ByABC News
February 3, 2009, 4:57 PM

Feb. 4, 2009— -- Atlanta Ruzman of the U.K. said her first clue that something was wrong with her pregnancy came at seven months, when she was barely showing a bump.

"I thought that I was really small," Ruzman, 24, told "I went to my midwife and asked her if everything was OK. She measured me, and she said yes, I was quite small."

Ruzman went to the hospital, where scans confirmed that the baby growing inside her was unusually small. Fearing that the baby was not getting enough nutrition in the womb, doctors made the decision to induce labor at 36 weeks and four days.

Suraya Brown entered the world at just over two-and-a-half pounds. That was 14 months ago. But today, doctors in England are baffled by the case of Baby Suraya who, it seems, has refused to grow.

Ruzman said that even now, her daughter is barely above the weight of an average newborn at 7 pounds, 7 ounces. This is only two ounces heavier than the birthweight of her older sister, Akilah, who was born about a year prior to Suraya.

Already, the child has undergone a battery of medical tests. An X-ray of the baby's bones revealed no abnormalities. Most recently, a genetic test for a form of dwarfism called Silver-Russell syndrome came back negative -- and doctors have also ruled out some other forms of dwarfism. But Ruzman said the team of physicians is still short on solid explanations.

"Every test we do keeps coming back negative," she said.

"Her case is highly unusual," consultant pediatrician Dr. Jide Menakaya, who has known Suraya since birth, told the U.K. paper the Daily Mirror on Monday. "I have certainly never seen anything like this, and I have been in pediatrics for nearly 17 years... We have run many tests but we haven't had a firm reason as to why she is not growing."

Repeated attempts to contact Menakaya directly were unsuccessful.

Dr. Ian Holzman, chief of the Division of Newborn Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, said it is little wonder that doctors find it a challenge to nail down a solid diagnosis.

"There can be a laundry list of conditions that might prevent growth, and it certainly looks like the doctors have looked for a number of these," said Holzman, who is not involved in the case, but who is familiar with similar cases of slow growth.

"I have cared for a child, small at birth, who grew very slowly, which we [initially] ascribed to poor nutritional intake," Holzman said. However, he added, further investigation revealed that the child had a condition known as gluten enteropathy -- and that the child began to grow once a change in diet was made.