Six month old baby girl started puberty due to rare ovarian cancer.
A MOTHER has told how her baby daughter was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after showing signs of puberty at just six months old.
Olivia-Grace Steele had already developed pubic hair and started having periods when she was finally diagnosed.
The baby’s breasts had also started to grow and she had developed a deeper cry leading consultants to suspect she had a tumour.
An ultrasound revealed a large mass 10cm wide on the baby’s right ovary, which was later, confirmed to be a rare cancerous juvenile granulosa cell tumour that produces hormones and had triggered puberty.
But after surgery to remove it followed by chemotherapy Olivia-Grace, now two, is in remission and puberty has been halted.
Her mother Jessica Steele- Smith, 26, is now hoping to raise awareness of the condition after she says other symptoms including her daughter’s large pot- belly were misdiagnosed for months.
Mrs Steele-Smith from Oxford said: ‘ Call it mother’s instinct but I felt very strongly for months that there was something wrong with Olivia-Grace.
‘I had spoken to medical professionals at least ten times because of her large belly and because she couldn’t keep her milk down.
‘I was dismissed as an overanxious first time mother but when I saw the hairs I decided to go straight to the hospital. Thank goodness I did because the consultants seemed to know what they were looking for immediately.
‘We were stunned to be told our baby had ovarian cancer because you tend to consider it a disease that only affects older ladies.
‘To learn your six month old daughter has started puberty is a shock but those signs were the final pieces of the jigsaw and we hope that by sharing our story othe’s will be more aware.’
Mrs Steele-Smith says she had concerns over her daughter from just ten days old after she become suddenly unsettled.
‘She would not stop crying but every time I voiced a concern I was told that’s just what babies do.’
But Mrs Steele-Smith and her husband Jake Smith, a nuclear energy development worker, grew more concerned when their baby struggled to keep down her milk.
Her mother says she saw doctors several times who diagnosed Olivia-Grace with everything from constipation, to reflux and colic and she was told to put Gaviscon in the baby’s bottle.
But at four months old the baby’s cute potbelly seemed to swell even larger, which was at odds with her poor feeding.
Mrs Steele-Smith says: ‘ Olivia-Grace was gaining weight, which seemed to make everyone happy but I knew she wasn’t keeping her feed down so it didn’t add up. Her breasts had started to bud and I was more convinced than ever that something was wrong but I felt I was being perceived as an over anxious first time mother.’
When she had to buy a larger size nappy to accommodate her daughter’s pot belly her GP agreed to start measuring it and when Mrs Steele-Smith later reported blood in the nappy she says she was told it was ‘just secretions.’
But upon spotting dark hairs she and her husband drove straight to Oxford’s John Radcliffe to plead for answers.
She says: ‘ I actually told my health visitor we were going to hospital and she told me not to be so ridiculous but thank goodness I didn’t listen.’
After examining her medics ordered an ultrasound, which revealed the baby’s stomach, was swollen with over a litre of fluid.
Behind that was a giant mass measuring 10cm by 7cm on her right ovary.
Mrs Steele-Smith said: ‘We felt awful. Far from being a cute pot belly, the fluid had been building up because of the tumour and that’s why she was gaining weight despite not keeping down her milk.’
Surgery to remove it was scheduled to take place just three days later on February 14th 2013.
During the three-hour operation surgeons successfully removed all of it along with the tot’s right ovary and fallopian tube.
A biopsy confirmed it was a rare cancerous juvenile granulosa cell tumour which releases hormones triggering precocious puberty. The blood in the nappy had been a period and her breasts and pubic hair were growing because of puberty.
Because the tumour was so large it had started leak, Olivia-Grace then required a three-week course of chemotherapy, which caused her to lose all her blonde hair.
Shortly before she turned one in August that year scans showed she was in remission and puberty had been halted. There is no reason why she will not be able to conceive a baby later in life.
Her delighted parents married in September last year with their daughter as bridesmaid.
Mrs Smith-Steele said: ‘ Trust your instincts. I appreciate my daughter’s condition was very rare but I knew something was wrong and I wish I had been listened to sooner.
‘Had it been found sooner she would have been spared chemotherapy. I felt I wasn’t taken seriously because she was my first baby.
‘But we are just grateful for the incredible treatment she received in hospital and that she has been given the all clear.’