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'He was like a little doll' - why a Norwich family put their son into a medical trial to help him gain weight

PUBLISHED: 16:45 01 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:02 01 July 2019

Carla-Jane and Kieran Carr with their nine-year-old son Mckenzie, who was the first patient to sign up to a study looking into the effect of insulin on children's response to growth hormones. Photo: Esther Reeve, National Institute for Health Research

Carla-Jane and Kieran Carr with their nine-year-old son Mckenzie, who was the first patient to sign up to a study looking into the effect of insulin on children's response to growth hormones. Photo: Esther Reeve, National Institute for Health Research

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Endless nights of broken sleep as your child screams to be fed are par for the course for parents of newborn babies.

Nine-year-old Mckenzie Carr, from Norwich, who was born small for his gestational age, enjoys taking part in archery. Photo: Supplied by Carla-Jane CarrNine-year-old Mckenzie Carr, from Norwich, who was born small for his gestational age, enjoys taking part in archery. Photo: Supplied by Carla-Jane Carr

But for one Norwich family, their son's first few weeks instead saw them setting alarms to wake up for night time feeds in a desperate attempt to see him gain weight.

And now Carla-Jane and Kieran Carr have shared their hopes of helping other children after entering their son, who was born small for gestational age (SGA) into a medical trial.

Mckenzie Carr, now aged nine, was born in September 2010, and weighed just 4lb 7oz.

Mum Carla-Jane, who gave birth at 39 weeks, told of her worry as he failed to "put on weight or grow for a long while".

Mckenzie Carr, far left, with little sister Xanthe Carr, aged six, mum Carla-Jane Carr and dad Kieran Carr. Photo: Supplied by Carla-Jane CarrMckenzie Carr, far left, with little sister Xanthe Carr, aged six, mum Carla-Jane Carr and dad Kieran Carr. Photo: Supplied by Carla-Jane Carr

The 32-year-old mother-of-two said: "He was like a little doll. He just didn't really grow and was much smaller than other children.

"He was on high calorie milk from birth and is still on it now."

"He used to take an hour to drink a couple of ounces of milk.

"We had to set alarms to wake up to feed him as he wouldn't wake up. It was the worry of him not getting enough. We used to have him weighed every week."

Mckenzie Carr, aged nine, is an active child who has recently started playing tennis. Photo: Supplied by Carla-Jane CarrMckenzie Carr, aged nine, is an active child who has recently started playing tennis. Photo: Supplied by Carla-Jane Carr

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Aged three, Mckenzie's doctor referred him to a geneticist, who couldn't find an underlying cause for his lack of weight gain, but referred him to a specialist for a course of growth hormones.

After Mckenzie's ninth birthday, the family decided to give it a try.

They were then asked to sign up to a new study at Cambridge University Hospital (CUH) into the effect of insulin on growth hormones on children - Mckenzie was the first patient to take part.

He began the first stage in September 2018, and was given six months of either a daily dose of Metformin, making the body more sensitive to insulin, or a placebo drug, alongside growth hormones.

And Mrs Carr, from North Earlham, said Mckenzie, now 125cm tall and weighing 3.4 stone, had grown during the treatment.

"He has grown in the last eight months," she said.

"He's on the lower end of the weight chart but he's gone into age 7-8 clothes now."

She added: "He's always been small but very active. He's into archery and just started tennis.

"We'd love to know what caused his SGA but now we just want to get on with it.

"He's happy with who he is but now and then does get a bit upset.

"[The study] won't primarily help him but it will help other children."

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