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Your Healthy Family: Down Syndrome Awareness Month - Hudson Hartman's journey Part 1

Posted at 2:17 PM, Oct 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-23 15:30:37-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and we’re sharing the story of a family who recently lived in Colorado Springs and is now getting attention nationwide, particularly little Hudson Hartman, who was born in April 2018.

Dr. Laura Klein, MD Medical practice leader of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at UCHealth Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, explains: “Down syndrome is really the most common chromosome anomaly that we see. It happens in about one out of every 700 babies born. It's an extra copy of the 21st chromosome, which is something that happens at the time of conception.”

Dr. Klein says improvements in ultrasound and prenatal care usually give families the ability to understand the challenges that can occur in a Down syndrome pregnancy. “In some cases it's not identified until after birth, but with modern prenatal care and ultrasound we can pick it up as early as about 12 weeks of pregnancy.”

In addition, medical providers are then able to closely monitor health concerns for the baby that may develop, says Dr. Klein. “Babies with Down syndrome are at a much higher risk of having congenital heart disease (in utero), which can in some cases be severe.”

Dr. Klein recalls meeting Mika Hartman around 12 weeks into her pregnancy for an ultrasound. Mika was 41 years old and had two children. She and husband CJ were thrilled to be expecting again.

Dr. Klein recalls: “She (Mika) had a high-risk pregnancy due to her own history of some health problems. On that 12-week ultrasound there were signs of Down syndrome. There was a thickening of the nuchal translucency, the skin at the back of the baby's neck. There was also a suspicion that Hudson had a heart defect.”

“It can be really devastating news to learn that your baby is not going to be completely healthy at the time of delivery, and people deal with that in different ways. For Mika and CJ, from the very beginning, they knew that they were going to rise to the challenge and take care of Hudson and try to make things the best we possibly could.”

Those challenges grew significantly when Mika hit 30 weeks of pregnancy, and her heart began to fail, putting Hudson in jeopardy, as well. Mika remembers: “Thirty weeks was a scary time for me and 30 weeks was a scary time for Hudson.”

Mika’s heart health became a kind of catch-22 for Dr. Klein and the team at UCHealth. Dr Klein explains, “It was a very unique case because Hudson did have a heart defect, and babies with heart defects really do better if they're delivered at full term and they're allowed to grow as big and healthy as possible in utero. With Mika's condition at 30 weeks we thought that she might need to deliver the baby, for her own health. She and CJ really wanted to do everything they could to optimize the outcome for Hudson, and so if it was safe for her to stay pregnant, she wanted to do anything she could to stay pregnant until full term.”

An emergency pacemaker and quick work stabilized Mika’s heart - and Hudson. Mika says, “I was in the hospital for three weeks until the temporary pacemaker was taken out. I was then taken from the cardiac intensive care unit, to the labor and delivery floor. Several nurses followed me and took good care of me. We built good friendships that have lasted still to this day. They monitored me there for three weeks and then I got to come home.”
An emergency pacemaker and quick work stabilized Mika’s heart - and Hudson. Mika says, “I was in the hospital for three weeks until the temporary pacemaker was taken out. I was then taken from the cardiac intensive care unit, to the labor and delivery floor. Several nurses followed me and took good care of me. We built good friendships that have lasted still to this day. They monitored me there for three weeks and then I got to come home.”
Mika says she was home for four weeks before it was time to deliver Hudson. “During those four weeks, I was closely monitored and had to check in and I was wearing monitors. I was also able to be at home to celebrate my son's birthday and have Easter with family.”

When the serious troubles began at week 30, Hudson’s weight was in the 32nd percentile. When he was born at nearly full term in April, he was in the 67th percentile. Mika says, “He was born at 7 lbs. and 20 inches long.”

Hudson had other health problems that have been closely managed since his birth. He spent four weeks at Children’s Hospital Colorado before he was able to go home.

Mika says the care she received from a large team of providers at UCHealth both in Colorado Springs and Aurora helped her to the finish line and Hudson’s delivery. “I will always be thankful for Dr. Klein for giving me the opportunity to stay pregnant. She listened, she cared, and she did what she thought was best for both Hudson and I. She gave us our best chance, which is what I have been trying to do for Hudson all along - give him his best chance.”

Dr Klein says, “I think that what we want to do as healthcare providers is give them as much information as we can, so they know what to prepare for and can make the best decision possible for them and their family.”

In our next story we'll sharethe amazing journey Hudson and his family have been on since his birth, which included a very large celebration in New York City in September with what Mika, and her family are now calling their “new family.”

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