An 8-year-old developmentally disabled girl suffering from microcephaly was found locked in a small wooden cage by police in New Mexico after her mother attended a movie screening at her children's school with her boyfriend and three other kids.
Authorities were alerted to the situation when the child's father encountered his ex-wife at the school and inquired as to the whereabouts of his daughter.
The child was found later that night by police in the Las Cruces mobile home of Cindy Patriarchias, 33, who had been trying for some time to adopt the girl, according to IBTimes
. Police said the girl was secured in a homemade wooden enclosure a little more than 2 feet wide and about 4 feet tall.
Microcephaly is a serious and rare neurological disorder that causes developmental disabilities. Affecting only one out of every 25,000 children born in the United States annually, it begins in the womb, where a fetuses' skull development experiences abnormal growth resulting in a child having a significantly smaller head than others of the same age and sex.
In addition to the changes physical appearance, the condition can also lead to learning disabilities in some children, but not all, and a significantly shorter life expectancy.
Causes of microcephaly include genetic defects, a viral infection, and drug and alcohol abuse by the mother during pregnancy according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Additional causes include a mother having diabetes, mercury poisoning, and a maternal malnutrition according to the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.
Patriarchias, and her boyfriend, Edmond Gonzales, 37, have been charged with negligently permitting child abuse, according to court records released on Monday. They were being held on $25,000 cash-only bonds.
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