WELLNESS
01/30/2012 04:14 pm ET Updated Apr 09, 2012

Bella Santorum Hospitalized With Pneumonia: Is It A Complication Of Trisomy 18?

Bella Santorum, the youngest daughter of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, will continue to stay in the hospital with pneumonia for two to four more days, but has already made a "miraculous turnaround," Santorum told the National Journal.

"Thank you so much for those prayers. They have lifted us up," Santorum said in a tele-town hall on Sunday, the National Journal reported.

ABC News reported that Bella has pneumonia in both of her lungs.

"I was up with her a lot of the night," Santorum told the Washington Post. "By the end of the day, it was really, really clear she was struggling."

Bella, 3, has the genetic disorder trisomy 18, which means that she has an extra chromosome in each cell in her body (except reproductive cells). Having an extra chromosome can affect protein levels and lead to a variety of conditions; some children with the condition can have malformed facial features, heart defects and severe growth retardation, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The Santorums haven't released any details on what might have spurred Bella's pneumonia, but the condition is a known complication of trisomy 18. According to Trisomy.org, pneumonia -- as well as congenital heart disease and sinus, ear, eye and urinary tract infections -- can occur as complications of trisomy 18. Pneumonia can be dangerous for people with Trisomy 18, and can even lead to death, Trisomy.org reported.

Trisomy 18 is more common in girls than in boys, and most children with trisomy 18 don't survive past their first week of life, according to the National Institutes of Health.

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