Born at 28 Weeks With Dwarfism, Doctors Said Matthew Would Die After Birth, But He’s Defying the Odds

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Nov 8, 2016   |   1:41PM   |   Washington, DC

Lots of people mistake Matthew Riddle III for a newborn. The Louisville, Kentucky baby weighs a little more than 3 pounds, but he actually is 7 months old.

Matthew has a rare form of dwarfism, and his doctors originally predicted that he would not survive, WLKY reports. But the tiny boy is doing better than expected. A few weeks ago, he traveled with his family to California to receive a special treatment for babies with his condition, according to the report.

Matthew was born prematurely at 28 weeks after doctors discovered that he was not growing properly in the womb, the report states. Jenevieve Cook, his mother, said her son weighed 1 pound, 2 ounces when he was born and spent 98 days in the neonatal intensive care unit before she was allowed to take him home.

“Before we got discharged they said he had the microcephaly. At that time we were explained that his brain has stopped growing, we were told Matthew would not live very long, to not expect value of life,” Cook said.

Later tests revealed a different condition, one that gave Matthew and his family more hope. Doctors said he tested positive for microcephalic osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism type two or MOPDII, a rare form of dwarfism.

“We were told Matthew would walk, he would talk, he would go to school, he would just be extraordinarily small,” his mother said.

Cook said her son wears clothes made for dolls and stuffed animals, and people often ask her if Matthew is a newborn. She said most people are kind to Matthew, but a few respond with shock.

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“Matthew will be just like everybody else. He’ll be out there throwing the ball like a regular kid, he’s just extra small, there is nothing wrong with just being different,” she said.

She encourages her two older sons to treat Matthew normally and to love him for who he is.

Right now, Matthew and his family are in California where he is undergoing a series of skull surgeries to help prevent strokes and brain aneurysms, according to the report. Three days ago on a Go Fund Me page for Matthew, the family said he came through his second surgery, but he is swollen and in pain.

Modern medical technology is providing more hope for babies like Matthew who are born at very low birth weights or very prematurely. Babies born after just 22 weeks in the womb and those weighing less than 1 pound are surviving and thriving, when given a chance at life.

A study published in 2015 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 23 percent of infants are surviving birth as early as 22 weeks. The study also found that some hospitals are not giving babies treatment at this early age, despite modern medical advancements that have pushed back the viability line from 24 weeks to 22.