Pennsylvania mother Jessica Battiato has been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome – a rare inherited connective tissue disorder which can cause brittle bones which may be easily broken. When she took her first-born son to the doctor more than a year ago for a swollen leg, she was shocked to learn that he had 18 to 20 fractures in his body. Cesar was seized by child protective services.
Since that time, experts have diagnosed him with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, low vitamin D, and infantile rickets. However, after more than a year, the state has still not released Cesar back to his parents.
In April, Jessica gave birth to another baby. That baby, too, was taken by Berks County Children and Family Services, and the parents Jessica Battiato and Cosme Aviles are once again being accused of child abuse.
See original story:
Doctors have confirmed Jessica Battiato’s medical condition, with its myriad of symptoms including hypermobility, joint pain, TMJ instability, reflux, and easy bruising. She has several family members with similar symptoms. Experts in Ehlers-Danlos syndrome report that the condition often runs in families. However, ever since Child Abuse Specialist Dr. Kathryn Crowell made the accusation that Cesar’s fractures were caused by abuse, Jessica believes that doctors and the court are ignoring her sons’ conditions.
Mother Fearful Social Workers Would Take New Baby
As ABC 6 News reports, Jessica hid her pregnancy from Berks County social workers out of fear that they would take her baby from her as soon as he was born. This fear appears justified, as social workers around the country often seize babies, even breastfeeding babies, right from the hospital, especially if another child in the family is already in the system.
Jessica was afraid, so she sought prenatal care and gave birth on April 27 in another county. She and her new baby were able to bond and spend those very important early weeks bonding together. Then, when baby Julius was 7 weeks old, Jessica says that she applied for Medicaid for him. That was when their family time ended.
Baby Seized by Child Protective Services
Social workers moved swiftly to file for an emergency hearing and remove Julius from his home.
They also ordered a full body scan on the baby, which was performed on June 9, the same day he was taken, by CHOP – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Blood work revealed that Julius had low vitamin D levels and a high platelet count. After the examination, he was sent to the same foster home as his brother Cesar.
The scan reportedly showed that Julius had a broken tibia, but nothing was reportedly said about this that day, and the foster mother took him home without knowing about the fracture. It wasn’t until he returned to the hospital for an appointment on June 14, almost a week later, that the fracture was mentioned. At that time, the doctors wrapped the leg in gauze, not a cast, and said that the fracture was in the healing stage.
Jessica reports that at no time when he was in her custody did he appear to be in any kind of pain and had never given any indication that his leg was broken. This is consistent with reports by many other parents of children with broken bones who have some type of brittle bone disorder. Their bones break easily, but usually the child does not act like they are in pain.
Jessica also reports that no one connected with evaluating Julius asked about her pregnancy or medical history. Just as with Cesar, her vitamin D levels were low. But this time, she was aware that the deficiency could cause problems in her baby, so she made sure to supplement. However, her levels still remained low, leading her to theorize that she could have some kind of condition that interferes with her body’s ability to absorb nutrients. She also had idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) during both pregnancies. ITP is a bleeding disorder that results in low platelets.
Expert – Diagnosis Ehlers-Danlos, Vitamin D Deficiency
After learning that Julius had a broken bone, Jessica was able to arrange for her baby to be seen by Dr. Michael Holick in Boston, the same specialist who evaluated Jessica and Cesar a year ago, diagnosing them with Ehlers-Danlos/hypermobility syndrome type 3. Julius was accompanied on that trip by the foster parents and a social worker.
According to Dr. Holick’s report, the sclerae of Julius’ eyes are bluish, and he has a “doughy elastic texture” to his skin, both of which are associated with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. He reported:
Based on his clinical history from both mother and foster parents of joint clicking and popping, maneuvering his legs in unusual positions and easily maneuvering out of a swaddling position he has hypermobility of his joints. I confirmed this on physical examination with being able to hyperextend his shoulders and fingers. Therefore it is with a high degree of medical certainty that he has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type 3. This genetic disorder of the collagen-elastin matrix of the skeleton would’ve resulted in a skeleton that was extremely fragile and could have fractured during birthing and with normal handling. This genetic insult to the skeleton could explain the cause for Julius’ tibial bucket handle fracture. In addition to Julius was vitamin D insufficient at the time of his fractures and therefore likely vitamin D deficient at birth. The combination of vitamin D deficiency and Ehlers-Danlos/hypermobility syndrome independently increased risk for fragility fractures.
Dr. Michael Holick is a highly respected expert in endocrinology, vitamin D, and bone metabolism at Boston University Medical Center. He serves on several National Institute of Health (NIH) study sections and has chaired NASA’s research committee on human health and performance. He has published more than 500 manuscripts in top peer-reviewed journals. He has received many awards for his research, and was recognized by Thompson Reuters as one of the most influential scientific minds in 2014, ranking as one of the top 1% most cited researchers in his field.
Despite his great deal of experience and his being one of the most highly respected doctors in his field, child protective services has reportedly attempted to downplay his expertise in family court hearings regarding Cesar, choosing instead to rely on the testimony of Child Abuse Specialist Dr. Kathryn Crowell, a doctor who has admitted under oath to misrepresenting medical evidence in her testimony that led to the wrongful jailing of an innocent father for more than a year. (Source)
Medical Condition Ignored in State Care
Social workers also reportedly downplay any possibility of the boys having a medical condition that needs to be watched. Jessica says:
My children are continuing to go through this because one doctor made a wrong diagnosis. They continue to look toward child abuse. They need to look at the bigger picture.
She notes that, even after a year, Cesar’s lab values are still off, with elevated platelets and other issues. She believes that, because of the actions of the Child Abuse Specialist, most of the doctors are not looking deeper to see what is really wrong with her children.
There are no criminal charges pending against the parents.
According to the service plan, both boys are considered by the state to be special needs. However, the plan does not mention Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Jessica Battiato wants to know what it is that makes her sons be considered special needs. She recognizes that states receive more Title IV-e funding when a child is special needs, and she asked the social worker about this. Brynn Fizz replied:
Every foster child is special needs.
Berks County Children and Youth Services has assigned Brynn Fizz, who is an adoption caseworker, to the Battiato family case. Jessica, who is a former foster child herself, fears that they plan to adopt out her beautiful boys. She says that their foster mother has become very attached, and “she really wants my children.”
Jessica recently posted on her Facebook page words which echo the heart cry of every mother whose children have been medically or legally kidnapped:
I just want my boys home…I want to kiss them goodnight…I want to be their mommy…God give me strength. I can’t live without them.
How You Can Help
Supporters are asked to contact the governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, and ask that Baby Cesar be returned to his family. He may be reached at 717-787-2500, or contacted here. He is also on Facebook and Twitter.