ONLY ON 13: Family shares story of little girl living with microcephaly

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Mom talks about raising child with microcephaly, Tracy Clemons reports. (KTRK)

After news that a baby was born in Harris County with Microcephaly associated with the Zika Virus, a Houston-area mother is shedding light on what it's like living with the defect. Her daughter has the condition.

"She's happy. She loves to sing. She can remember anything by song," Riley Lee said of her nine-year old daughter Ryann.

The little girl wears ankle braces as a result of cerebral palsy. She was born with Turner Syndrome, a chromosomal condition that stunts growth. Due to her condition, Ryann stands about as tall as an average five-year-old. With the microcephaly, her mom tells us her head is about as big around as a five-month-old.

"She looks more in proportion than she would if she was a regular nine year old's height," she said. "Luckily she has Texas hair. When her hair is down, it's very big. That covers it a little bit."

Before the images of babies in Latin America with small heads from Zika-related microcephaly, not many people had ever heard of it.

"I had to do all my research on Google, which is a terrible place to find out your child might have seizures or be blind or be in a wheelchair," Lee said.

VIDEO: Harris County reports first Zika-linked Microcephaly case in Texas
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Harris County reports first Zika-linked microcephaly case in Texas

"A year ago we weren't talking about this," said Dr. Sean Blackwell with Women's Memorial Hermann-Memorial City.

Dr. Blackwell believes some of the fear may be from the fact that there's a lot medical experts don't know about Zika-related microcephaly. The Zika talk is one he says he has daily with patients. But he's trying to calm some of the fears in women who haven't left Houston.

"If we have a case of a woman whose baby develops fetal microcephaly or who develops Zika that hasn't traveled, I think certainly the concern will change," he explained. "Fortunately we haven't seen that yet. But there's certainly some people that think that's a possibility here in the southwest part of the U.S."

Riley Lee says she wants everyone to know that people like her daughter are just that: People. She says this diagnosis is not the end of the world.

"I don't want people to pity her or feel sorry for her. She is just like everybody else. She just has to work a little harder than we do. And my job as her mom is to help get her the very best," she said.

Right now, Dr. Blackwell adds, there's no way to tell whether there's a difference in severity between microcephaly caused by Zika or when it's caused by other medical conditions.
Related Topics:
healthzika virusillnessHouston
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