Baby Can’t Open Mouth in Medical Mystery
The Scott family started a website to find out what's wrong with baby Wyatt.
April 18, 2014— -- A family desperate for answers has turned to the Internet to find out why their 10-month-old son can’t open his mouth.
Baby Wyatt’s lockjaw has baffled doctors since he was born, and although the Scott family has taken him to every specialist imaginable, they can’t figure out the root of the problem, Andrew Scott, the baby's father, told ABCNews.com.
So his wife, Amy, decided to create a website, WhatsWrongWithWyatt.com, in the hopes that someone will recognize the condition and offer a solution.
"Nobody that we’ve found has seen anything like this before,” Andrew Scott told ABCNews.com. “Hopefully, somebody will see it and will have some ideas on how we should go forward."
When Wyatt was born last June in Ottawa, Canada, doctors were immediately alarmed that he couldn’t open his mouth -- fearing he could not breathe and would need to be intubated, according to the Scotts’ blog. He spent the next three months in the hospital.
Since then, they have needed to call 911 six times because Wyatt was choking and unable to open his mouth, Andrew Scott said. Once, they needed to administer CPR, and another time, a bloody nose spilled out of his mouth and scared them all.
Wyatt's doctor, Dr. J. P. Vaccani, said the condition, congenital trismus, is rare and usually the result of a fused joint or extra band of tissue. But Wyatt’s CT and MRI scans appear to be normal.
"It's an unusual situation where he can’t open his mouth, and there’s no kind of obvious reason for it,” Vaccani, a pediatric otolaryngologist at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario told ABCNews.com. “Otherwise, he’s a healthy boy."
Vaccani said it’s possible there’s a muscle problem, but to find out, doctors will need to put Wyatt to sleep and do a muscle biopsy. Unfortunately, anesthesiologists aren’t comfortable doing that just yet because they won’t be able to control his airways if they can’t open his mouth.
Like most babies, Wyatt has trouble controlling his secretions, such as saliva, Vaccani said. But normal babies can open their mouths when they become too full as a kind of fail-safe, he said. Wyatt can’t do that, which is why he chokes.
Since the Scotts’ daughter started kindergarten, she’s been bringing home extra bugs and viruses, making it even tougher on Wyatt who gets sick and chokes.
“My daughter has an Elmo doll with band-aids on it. She treats him like her sick baby, too,” Andrew Scott said. “They’re pretty loving with him and everything.”
Doctors have used Botox to relax Wyatt’s jaw muscles, allowing him to open his mouth a little bit, but it’s not a complete solution, Andrew Scott said.
Since launching the website this month, the Scotts have received dozens of emails from well-wishers and people who say they have ideas. Vaccani said a Vancouver dentist has already reached out to him to talk about a child he’s seen with a similar problem.
“The parents’ goal of awareness seems to be working because people are getting in contact with us,” he said.
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