AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – In honor of National Birth Defects Awareness month, NewsChannel 6 sat down with a miraculous little girl who’s overcome numerous obstacles.
“She wasn’t breathing at first, but once she started crying, she hasn’t stopped,” said Elizabeth Stamatakis’ grandmother, Krystina Carrino.
Elizabeth was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome, or CRS, which affects the development of her lower body.
“I remember sitting there at the ultrasound and googling it, and the images that came up were just horrific,” Carrino said.
The now 5-year-old wasn’t supposed to make it past birth. But, despite expectations, she’s as mobile and as spunky as ever.
“Her spine stops at L1, her legs are fixed in the position that they are in, and other than some basic toileting issues and things like that, she’s your average 5-year-old kindergartener,” Carrino said. “Nothing stops her.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has birth defects being the leading cause of infant deaths in the U.S.
Although some birth defects are genetic or from unknown causes, health experts recommend starting prenatal care as early as possible, and avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs during pregnancy.
DHEC has programs to help families of children with birth defects.
“Connecting those families of those children to the appropriate resources, and making those referrals early on, because we know with many birth defects early intervention is key,” said Brannon Traxler, the director of public health for SCDHEC.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth continues to amaze.
Her grandmother says she is always on the move, and an inspiration to those going through a similar situation.
“Once that baby is born and they’re in your arms, you’re going to love them no matter what,” Carrino said. “Life will be a little difficult, but it’s difficult for normal children, too. And a disability, is not a disability – I always say it’s an ability. The only thing that she can never do is walk. But other than that, there’s nothing that little girl can’t do.”
And Elizabeth has surely proven that.
“My favorite thing is to do is play games,” she said. “I play a lot of games with my friends, and my other friends.”