Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has cancelled all his campaign events scheduled for Sunday, according to a statement released by his campaign office.

The cancelations were made after Santorum's daughter, Isabella, was admitted to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, on Saturday evening. He is expected to return to Florida, however, and resume his campaign schedule as soon as possible, according to Hogan Gidley, a spokesperson for Santorum.

Isabella, the three-and-a-half year old daughter of Santorum and his wife, Karen, suffers from Trisomy 18, a fatal genetic disorder.

Santorum and his wife have often spoken about Isabella's medical condition in their campaigns. She is referred as a pro-life symbol by the Santorums, as most fetuses with such genetic disorders are medically aborted after the diagnosis.

The Republican politician has canceled campaign events in the past, to be with his daughter, and has repeatedly said he will stand for all children with special needs and their families.Rick


Rick Santorum with Isabella who is affected with a genetic disorder called Trisomy 18. credit: REUTERS/Jason Cohn

What is Trisomy 18?

Trisomy 18 or the Edwards Syndrome, as it is generally called, is a condition where an infant or fetus will have three copies (full or partial) of chromosome 18, instead of the normal two copies. The condition is named after Dr. John. H. Edwards, who identified the disease in 1960.   

The condition is the most common Trisomy diseases, after the Down's Syndrome. It affects one in 6,000 live births and nearly 80 percent of those affected are girls.

Risk and Survival Chances:

Trisomy is a fatal complication. In fact, a majority of the fetuses identified as having Trisomy 18 die before birth. Those that are born do not usually survive the first two weeks of birth. The rate of survival is less than 50 percent in the first week, according the National Institutes of Health.

There have, however, been rare cases (1 percent), where the victims survived into their teens; however, they did have further and equally serious medical complications.

The disorder is contracted before conception and occurs due to a chromosomal error in the eggs, resulting in extra chromosomal material. The seriousness of the condition depends on the extent of extra material found, along with other genetic risk factors involved.

The disorder can be diagnosed at the fetal stage, with genetic tests. However, the prognosis of the extent of abnormality is not possible before birth. In most cases, the risk of occurrence is directly related to the age of the mother.

Symptoms:

The disease results in the partial or lack of growth of brain and body organs, leading to abnormalities and malfunctions. The chances of survival depend on the magnitude of abnormality. The symptoms include brain sizes smaller than normal, undeveloped or clenched fingers, structural heart defects, malfunctions in the kidneys or other critical organs, deformation in facial and body features like a small head and jaw, a bigger or smaller chest, crossed legs, drooping eyes and a hole in cleft or iris.

The condition is incurable and can be treated only to address symptoms and medical complications. However, babies with fewer complications or partial Trisomy, known as the Mosaic Edwards Syndrome, have better chances of survival.