Mylee GraceJust days after birth, Mylee Grace was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit in severe distress. Diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia, she miraculously survived. But her battles were only beginning.

Mylee suffered from dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). Instead of traveling into her esophagus, food and liquids would go down the trachea into the lungs (called aspiration), which caused Mylee to suffer repeated episodes of life-threatening pneumonia during her first year of life.

What was causing Mylee’s troubling problems?

When an MRI scan was ordered for Mylee, it revealed a Chiari I malformation (a downward herniation of the cerebellar tonsils.

Children with Chiari I malformations under the age of 3 may present with some or all of these symptoms: failure to thrive, a history of difficulty feeding, problems swallowing, aspiration pneumonia, gastroesophageal reflux, and many undergo procedures such as Nissen fundoplication or tracheotomy.

Early identification is vital for children like Mylee. If your child has these symptoms, ask your doctor about screening for the Chiari I malformation. A surgical treatment could benefit your child.