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Malia's Story

A Weighty Issue

Malia Niland weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces at birth. Like many newborns, Malia had jaundice but was otherwise healthy. As the weeks passed, she stopped sleeping well, became fussy and lost weight despite round-the-clock feedings. Her mom, Kourtney, an intensive care nurse, knew something was wrong.

Initial trips to the pediatrician confirmed that Malia was low on the growth chart, so her physician recommended higher calorie formula. When Malia failed to improve, her pediatrician checked for gastrointestinal or thyroid problems—but the test results were negative. The pediatrician referred Malia and Kourtney to Cayce Jehaimi, M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist.

Diagnosing the Problem

At that point, Malia had fallen off the growth chart. She was six months old and weighed only 10 pounds, 6 ounces.

After performing additional tests, including a dedicated MRI of the pituitary gland and cortrosyn stimulation testing to rule out cortisol deficiency, Dr. Jehaimi diagnosed Malia with congenital hypopituitarism. A rare medical condition that occurs when the pituitary gland does not produce enough hormones, Malia has an underactive pituitary gland. Dr. Jehaimi immediately began treating her with thyroid replacement therapy, and planning the next step of treatment—growth hormone injections.

Growing Strong

Now an active 1-year-old, Malia is still small—only 12 pounds—but she is growing. Considering her size, she is healthy and does not have any developmental or cognitive problems. Her growth hormone injections began in June.

"Malia is a different baby," Kourtney explains. "Where she was once fussy and lethargic, she is now active, inquisitive and sassy. She loves animals, swimming and being outside."

Kourtney is grateful that Malia was diagnosed early. "I know the growth hormone will not work overnight, but it will help her get back on track so she will be closer to normal height and weight," Kourtney says. "Dr. Jehaimi has been amazing. I am so thankful that Malia is in such kind and capable hands."

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