Hirsute child from Kathmandu, Nepal
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Hirsute child from Kathmandu, Nepal

Laxmi Shrestha of Tharpubazar in Tanahu district, Nepal is known to her family and neighbours as a hairy child. This strange child has 2-3 inches long hairs all over her body and face. Even her face can not be seen because of the hair. Otherwise, she is a near perfect child - better than most children of her age in both manner and behaviour. Laxmi, now 14, studies in class 7 at the local Min Secondary School.

Despite that single flaw in her looks, she is her parents' favourite child. Both her parents, Buddhiman Shrestha and Bishnu Shrestha, said there are no flaws in her conduct and behaviour. Laxmi has two elder sisters and a younger brother - all of them normal.

Laxmi was born with hairs all over her body and her mother Bishnu Shrestha said she does not know how her third child was born that way. The doctors at Pokhara Hospital, where she was born, also had no answer to the condition of that new-born baby.

According to the mother, the doctors at Pokhara Hospital could only console her saying that the child will bring good fortune to her. As if it was some kind of a prophesy, after Laxmi was born the economic condition of the family began to improve and her mother even gave birth to a son after three daughters. People started coming to see the strange child. Many even took her as some kind of godly incarnation and offered 'puja' and money to her. Her mother said even today she 'earns' Rs. 50 to Rs. 100 as offerings everyday.

There are also some who are put off by Laxmi's hairs and blame her kismet. But, the mother says, "It is not them who will have to take care of her so I simply ignore them."

Those who know Laxmi and have seen her think it could be due to some endocrine malfunction. When Laxmi was young one of her relatives had sent some medicines to remove the hairs from her body but her parents stopped using them after they had no effect on her. However, Laxmi has not undergone a comprehensive medical check-up and treatment by expert doctors.

Some who had visited her had even offered to take care of her but the mother said she refused to give away the child."If my other three children are no burden to me, neither will be the fourth one, "Bishnu Shrestha, Laxmi's mother said. There were also some foreigners, who had offered to take the child abroad. "But I told them if they want to take Laxmi, they will also have to take me with her," she said.

No matter how good a child she may be her parents worry about her future. They want their daughter to be educated enough to stand on her own feet. They also wish the government to assist in her education.

Although Laxmi is reluctant to talk about her condition openly, she seems to have accepted fate's unpleasant gift to her. She, however, denied to be photographed. She said there are still some, mainly children of her age, who make fun of her. "When they try to jeer me I simply walk away from them."

She said those who knew her take her condition as normal. "My teachers love me more than others because I study hard," Laxmi said. Till now she has passed with good marks. Hikmat Thapa, one of her neighbours, said "we have no misgivings about her condition. We like her and love her for her manners and behaviour and not for her appearance."

The article does not describe the hair distribution or whether it is pigmented, both of which would be important to know when trying to identify the condition. Three options come to mind, androgenic hirsutism (unlikely), congential hypertrichosis terminalis (possible), congential hypertrichosis lanuginosa (probable). See the hirsutism section of keratin.com for pages on each of these conditions.

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