2nd child taken from mother accused of abuse; mom claims genetic disorder

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A second Berks County boy has been pulled from his mother's care, as she stands accused of child abuse. (WPVI)

A second Pennsylvania boy has been pulled from his mother's care, as she stands accused of child abuse.

Two months ago, Jessica Battiato's first child was found to have 20 fractures across his body. She says the injuries were caused by a rare genetic disorder.

Battiato gave birth to her second son Julius on April 27. It was a pregnancy she kept hidden from the media, her family and local authorities.

Children and Youth Services quickly swept in to remove that child, again amid more allegations of abuse.

"I was just hiding it because I didn't want them to take him away," Battiato said.

Battiato admits she gave birth to Julius in secret.

This summer, the first-time mother was fighting to regain custody of 1-year-old Caesar, who was taken away after authorities discovered the child suffered from nearly two dozen fractures across his body.

"I want this all to end, and I want him to be home, and I want him to be happy," she said.

Battiato and her doctor said Caesar's injuries were caused by a rare genetic disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and a lack of vitamin D, a combination that may cause fragile bones and mimic child abuse.

"I'm not legally obligated to tell someone I'm pregnant. I was scared. I think anybody would be," Battiato said.

She said that fear prompted her to give birth in nearby Lancaster County, out of the watchful eye of the Berks County authorities.

"I didn't want that moment where I had my child and for them to be pulled and ripped out of my arms at the hospital because that is what they do," Battiato said.

But when Julius was 7 weeks old, after Battiato applied for state aid, she said her secret was exposed. Children and Youth Services stepped in and took Julius.

"I just want them to know that it is going to be proven that it is something medical," Battiato said.

Hospital records show Julius also has a fracture on his right tibia.

The diagnosis, again, was child abuse.

"Why would I risk that, to put myself in jail? If you are being accused of abuse of one child to another, why would I want to risk that spotlight?" Battiato said.

Battiato had her newborn evaluated by Dr. Michael Holick at Boston University, a specialist who diagnosed both her and her first child with EDS and vitamin D insufficiency.

"It is with a very high degree of medical certainty that Julius has this underlying genetic disorder that both mom and brother have," Holick said.

Dr. Holick said that combination, and not child abuse, could explain the bone injuries to both children.

"I wouldn't hesitate to have the children returned to the parents," Holick said.

Berks County CYS said they would not comment, saying, "The law prohibits Berks County Children and Youth from confirming or denying any involvement with this family."

"They can continue to fight, but we are going to continue to fight also. We are not giving up," Battiato said.

Berks County CYS has also now requested that Battiato release her complete medical records and undergo a full body scan, in an attempt to either prove or discredit her medical claims.

But Dr. Holick says that scan likely won't show anything because, he says, there may not be any remnants of fractures Battiato suffered as a child.
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