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'The Bachelor' Draws Attention To An Unusual In-Utero Injury, Pt. 1

Millions of TV viewers in Ohio and around the nation tuned into an unusual twist on the current season of the hit show "The Bachelor." Sarah Herron, one of the women competing to win the affections of Sean Lowe stands apart from the other contestants in an interesting way: she has only one full arm. Herron lost her other arm before birth as the result of a condition known as amniotic band syndrome. As a contestant on "The Bachelor," Herron is inspiring thousands of Americans with similar conditions.

Amniotic band syndrome is a pregnancy complication that occurs in around 1 of every 1,200 births. Also known as "congenital constriction bands," this condition develops when thick strands of fibrous material break away from the rest of the amniotic sack and become entangled around a fetus's body parts. If uncorrected, the bands can constrict blood flow and amputate a limb, fingers or toes.

Although it may be hard for a doctor to diagnose amniotic band syndrome in time to prevent damage, it is possible to detect swelling and constriction in an ultrasound procedure. MRIs and other advanced imaging techniques can help with a more complete diagnosis, allowing doctors to know how to proceed.

In terms of treatment, many doctors opt to wait until after birth to consider reconstructive surgery. When amniotic band syndrome claims an entire limb, however, post-birth procedures cannot repair the damage. Successful procedures have used fetal surgery techniques to correct amniotic band syndrome.

Despite these successes, any procedure depends upon a correct diagnosis - if a doctor misses early signs of amniotic band syndrome that another physician would have spotted, a family could face the lifelong consequences of a child's unnecessary injuries. An experienced birth injury lawyer can help these families explore their options.

Check back later this week for more on how Sarah Herron turned amniotic band syndrome into an advantage, inspiring thousands of fans.

Source: USA Today, "Sarah Herron's disability is advantage on 'Bachelor'," Ann Oldenburg, Jan. 17, 2013

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