Helmet-Clad Triumph: Triplet Brothers Overcome Rare Disease, Making History


The triplet siblings overcame their ɪʟʟɴᴇss and wrote their own story. Amy and Mike Howard knew they were expecting triplets. What they didn’t expect was for their babies to go down in medical history.

Hunter, Jackson, and Kaden are the first triplets in history to be born with ᴄʀᴀɴɪᴏsʏɴᴏsᴛᴏsɪs. This is a rare birth ᴅᴇꜰᴇᴄᴛ in which the bones in a newborn’s skull fuse together too early. They weren’t even 3 months old when all three babies underwent sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ to correct their problem.

Amy found out she was pregnant with triplets in the spring of 2016 during a simple ɢʏɴᴇᴄᴏʟᴏɢɪᴄᴀʟ exam. The ultrasound showed not one, not two, but three fetuses! The triplets were ᴄᴏɴᴄᴇɪᴠᴇᴅ naturally, without ꜰᴇʀᴛɪʟɪᴛʏ ᴛʀᴇᴀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ, and were born in October of the same year.

Hunter and Jackson are identical twins, while Kaden is the team’s third brother. Within days, doctors noticed something was wrong with their skulls. Kaden’s head was triangular in shape with a pointed forehead, while Jackson and Hunter had skulls that protruded at the back.

All three boys were diagnosed with ᴄʀᴀɴɪᴀʟ sᴛᴇɴᴏsɪs, which can limit ʙʀᴀɪɴ ᴅᴇᴠᴇʟᴏᴘᴍᴇɴᴛ and affects about one in every 2,500 newborns.

Dr. David Chesler, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, performed the sᴜʀɢᴇʀʏ on the triplets. He and his team could find no other reports in the history of medicine of triplets all born with ᴄʀᴀɴɪᴏsʏɴᴏsᴛᴏsɪs. “The skull is made up of plates, it’s not a single bone,” said Dr.

Chesler, and continued: “If the seams between those plates connect too early, the brain will be put under pressure because it will increase in volume without the necessary space. This can be detrimental to the child’s brain, vision, and, in general, life. It is not something immediately threatening to his life, but it can cause sᴇʀɪᴏᴜs consequences later.”

The three separate sᴜʀɢᴇʀɪᴇs were performed over two days in January. Dr. Chesler made small incisions in each of the boys’ heads and, using an ᴇɴᴅᴏsᴄᴏᴘᴇ and a ʜᴀʀᴍᴏɴɪᴄ sᴄᴀʟᴘᴇʟ, cut a strip of bone to remove the welded suture. All three ᴏᴘᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴs were completed successfully, and the babies returned home just two days later.

For the next 6–9 months, the triplets wore specially adapted helmets for 23 hours a day in order to properly shape their skulls.

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