A four-month-old baby has been nicknamed ‘baby gorilla’ by his parents after he started growing long, dark body hair across his chest, back, arms, legs and even his face as a result of medication needed to treat a life-threatening illness.
When he was just one month old, Mateo Hernandez was diagnosed with Congenital Hyperinsulinism, a condition that causes the pancreas to produce excessively high levels of insulin and leaves sufferers with dangerously low blood sugar levels.
As a result of his condition, which affects just one in every 50,000 babies, Mateo’s parents Bri Shelby, 24, and Jared Hernandez, 22, from Texas, had to put their son on medication in order to control the symptoms.
To their relief, two weeks after starting the life-saving treatment, baby Mateo’s health improved dramatically, however an unusual side effect left him covered in long, dark body hair, which has made him the target of several cruel comments from online trolls.
Unique: A four-month-old baby boy started growing long, dark hair all over his body in a rare side effect from life-saving medication used to treat a potentially-deadly insulin condition
Fighter: When he was one month old, Mateo Hernandez, from Texas, was diagnosed with Congenital Hyperinsulinism, which causes the pancreas to produce too much insulin
Concern: His parents, Bri Shelby and Jared Hernandez, first noticed that there was something wrong with their son when he began visibly shaking and overeating
‘After a couple of weeks of being on the medication his body started changing – he got really big and started growing lots of hair on his head and body,’ Bri, who works as a police officer, said.
‘It started with his head and forehead, then his legs, arms and back until it had spread to everywhere except his stomach.
‘He was bald when he came out but after a few weeks of being on the medication he’s turned into a little gorilla.
‘The doctor warned us about hair growth being a possible side effect but I never expected it to be that extreme.’
Bri and her husband Jared admit that the rapid hair growth has been difficult to adjust to, particularly because it requires a lot more care than they ever expected, however they are simply happy that their son is healthy.
However their decision to share images of their son’s condition online has seen the family become the target of several horrible comments, with some social media users urging them to ‘wax’ their infant child, while others told them to ‘throw him away’.
Still, they insist that they would rather their son was hair and healthy, rather than sick.
Bri first noticed something was wrong with her first and only baby a month after bringing him home, when he kept visibly shaking and overeating.
Then and now: After Mateo was diagnosed with Congenital Hyperinsulinism, he was put on a life-saving medication to increase his blood sugar levels – and which caused the hair growth
Tiny tot: Doting mom Bri says her son’s hair growth started on his forehead, before spreading to his legs and arms
Looking ahead: Doctors expect baby Mateo to outgrow his condition eventually and be able to come off the medication, after which the excess hair should fall out
After returning to hospital and being diagnosed with the rare, life-threatening condition Congenital Hyperinsulinism – he was admitted to the neonatal unit where he remained for two and a half months.
Bri said: ‘When he was born we brought him home for a month but then I started noticing that he was shaking a lot and over eating so I took him to the doctor.
‘He was having dangerously low blood sugar – his levels were in the 30s when a healthy range is between 70 and 100, so he was at risk of having seizures or even dying.
‘He was admitted to the NICU in Texas Children’s Hospital and doctors put him on medication to control his insulin and blood sugar levels.
‘He started off on a low dose but it didn’t do much so doctors ended up putting him on the max dose.
‘It was very scary and stressful but the medication really saved his life.’
The parents now take time each day to groom their hairy baby and have even attempted some hair removal to cope with the never-ending growth.
Doctors expect baby Mateo to outgrow his condition eventually and be able to come off the medication, after which the excess hair should fall out.
But since the condition is so rare they are unsure how long this will take.
Overjoyed: Despite facing cruel comments from trolls about their son’s body hair, Bri and her husband say they are just happy their baby is healthy
Upset: The youngster had to spend two and a half months in Texas Children’s Hospital, where he was closely monitored by doctors
Taking action: The parents now take time each day to groom their hairy baby and have even attempted some hair removal to cope with the never-ending growth
Bri said: ‘I asked them if I could shave him but they advised against it and said it would fall off on it’s own eventually.
‘We decided to shave his face but it looks like it’s growing back already.
‘We make sure to bathe him properly and then dry and moisturize his legs and arms every day, massaging it in and then brushing all of his hair to keep it neat.’
Mateo’s unusual body hair draws a lot of attention from people when out in public, with many strangers commenting on how hairy his limbs are.
Since posting photos of their baby online the family have also received some negative comments from trolls, urging the parents to wax the furry baby.
But the first time mom refuses to let them get her down, just happy that her baby is healthy.
Bri said: ‘When we go out in public people say how cute he is but say, “That’s a lot of hair, I’ve never seen that before,” and we have to explain it’s because of his condition.
‘Get some negative comments saying, “Throw the whole baby away” or telling me to wax him but I don’t care – all that matters is my baby is healthy.
‘It’s not something to be embarrassed or ashamed of and I know people wouldn’t say those things if they had their own children.
‘The medication saved his life and I’d rather him be hairy and healthy than sick.’