Popular British soap EastEnders has announced a new emotional storyline which will see Whitney Dean’s baby diagnosed with Edwards’ syndrome. Whitney, played by Shona McGarty, arrived on Albert Square in 2008 and is now expecting her first baby with Zack Hudson, played by James Farrar.
The pair had a brief fling at the end of last year and they will find out about the baby’s Edwards’ diagnosis during an emotional scan scene. EastEnders has partnered up with SOFT UK and Antenatal Results and Choices for the storyline, with an aim to raise awareness for Edwards’ syndrome.
But what is Edwards’ syndrome and can you treat the condition? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Edwards’ syndrome?
According to the NHS website, Edwards syndrome is a rare and serious condition, also known as trisomy 18. The condition affects how long a baby may survive.
Sadly, most babies with the condition will die before, or shortly after being born. A small number (about 13 in 100) babies born alive with Edwards’ syndrome will live past their first birthday.
What is the cause of Edwards’ syndrome?
Every cell in a human’s body usually contains 23 chromosomes, which carry the genes inherited from parents. A baby with Edwards’ syndrome has three copies of chromosome 18 instead of two.
Having three copies of chromosome 18 happens by chance and affects the way the baby grows and develops due to a change in the sperm or egg before conception. The chance of having a baby with Edwards’ syndrome increases as you get older and the condition does not usually run in families.
Can you treat Edwards’ syndrome?
Sadly, there is no cure for Edwards’ syndrome.Treatment will focus on the symptoms of the condition, such as heart conditions, breathing difficulties and infections.
Babies with the syndrome may also need to be fed through a feeding tube, as they can often have difficulty feeding. The NHS states that Edwards’ syndrome has an impact on the baby’s movements as they get older, and they may benefit from supportive treatment such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
To find out more about Edwards’ syndrome, visit the NHS website.