When Matthew Boler was just two-months-old, a routine checkup went from normal to a nightmare in a matter of minutes.
His pediatrician noticed that Matthew, now 11 months, did not have a soft spot on the top of his skull and that his head was abnormally long.
Matthew with his mom, Megan. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Boler Family)
She suspected that the infant had craniosynostosis, a condition in which a baby's skull fuses together prematurely, not leaving enough room for the brain to grow correctly. If left untreated, it can cause neurological problems and even death.
"The pediatrician told me she wanted us to see a neurosurgeon right away," Matthew's mother Megan recalls to People magazine. "Any mom who hears the word 'neurosurgeon' for a child gets worried."
Matthew in the hospital. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Boler Family)
The pediatrician's suspicions were right, and Matthew was officially diagnosed a week later by Dr. Sandi Lam, director of craniofacial surgery at Texas Children's Hospital.
The baby boy underwent a five-hour endoscopic surgery to open his skull and remove bits of overgrowth that could cause problems.
Matthew following surgery (left) and during recovery. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Boler Family)
Megan says her son was "totally unrecognizable" when she went in to see him after the operation. "He was so swollen...He was inconsolable for a brief period," she remembers. "That was so hard. No parent can prepare for how that feels."
After four months in a corrective helmet to help reshape his skull and another four months of recovery, Matthew is now a healthy child about to celebrate his first birthday.
Matthew and his helmet. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Boler Family)
His parents are hopeful that his story will help raise awareness about craniosynostosis and how essential early detection is.
"Early diagnosis is important," Dr. Lam tells People. "If you catch it early, it gives the baby a wider variety of treatment options."
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