News 3 investigates medical conditions commonly mistaken as child abuse

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - After a family was charged with abusing their infant son, News 3 took a closer look at potential medical conditions this family claims their son has.

In April, William and Kelly Hammonds were charged with felony child abuse and neglect after police reported their infant son had injuries consistent with being harmed.

Julie Rauch, runs a support group for people with Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes, Chiari, and POTS and related illness for those living in an around Hampton Roads.  She spoke to News 3 about this condition and about Osteogenesis imperfecta. She said many children remain undiagnosed for years and they show bruises and other injuries that are caused by these medical conditions.

When News 3 first investigated the charges filed against the Hammonds, we spoke to them directly and also to William Hammonds' father, Mitch. Mitch is infant Alexander's grandfather, and the family lived under his roof.

Mitch Hammonds said his son and daughter-in-law have always known something was wrong with their baby. He said they took baby Alex to CHKD and even flew to Boston Children’s Hospital to try to get a diagnosis for his condition.

Shortly after these doctor visits, the parents were charged with child neglect and a grand jury ended up charging them with child abuse once the case was heard in court. Court records state the child had rib fractures, fluid around his lungs, leg fractures, spinal fractures and bruises on his body.

Rauch said these symptoms are likely from EDS or Osteogenesis imperfecta, which is also known as "brittle bone syndrome."  These injuries, according to Rauch, are often misunderstood, and the Hammonds told News 3 they were looking into getting answers for the injuries.

According to Rauch, many children are born with similar conditions and doctors are not as knowledgeable about how to diagnose them, so they go undetected for years. Rauch advocates for families like this and hopes anyone who had questions will do their research and continue searching for answers about their children.

Rauch runs an advocate group in Hampton Roads and eastern North Carolina. To learn more, click here.

Information on Osteogenesis imperfecta can be found at the foundation's website.

For those interested in Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, check out the society web page.