Health

Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell's Son Diagnosed with Artery Disease

12/22/2008 at 12:35 PM EST

Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell's Son Diagnosed with Artery Disease
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty
After being hospitalized last Friday, Backstreet Boys singer Brian Littrell's 6-year-old son has been diagnosed with atypical Kawasaki Disease, an inflammation of the arteries that typically afflicts children.

In a post on his official Web site, the musician confirms the diagnosis, and says that his son, Baylee, was released from Atlanta's Scottish Rite Children's Hospital on Saturday.

Littrell, 33, and his wife Leighanne, 39, say that support from fans has been pouring in during the difficult family time.

"We want to thank every one who prayed for us as well as all of the emails and phone calls," Littrell writes on his Web site. "Your love and support means so much to our family. ... We are humbled by the love and compassion that people have for our son all over the world, thank you!"

According to the American Heart Association, Kawasaki Disease can inflame and weaken coronary arteries, creating the risk of blood clots that can cause heart attacks. It mostly afflicts children under the age of 5, and primarily boys, often of Japanese or Korean descent. About 4,000 cases are diagnosed annually in the United States, and only 1 percent are fatal.

"Baylee was finally diagnosed with [atypical] Kawasaki Disease," says Littrell's post. "We would like to stress [atypical] because Baylee did not have textbook symptoms of any of the viruses they thought he had."

With his coronary arteries affected by the disease, "He received an IVIG, which is a treatment to bring down the inflammation in his coronary arteries," says the post. "Baylee will be closely monitored for the next 6-8 weeks by a Pediatric Cardiologist to see if the treatment was effective," Littrell writes.

Although Kawasaki Disease is not known to be hereditary, Brian, himself, has battled coronary disease, undergoing open-heart surgery 10 years ago to correct a congenital problem. He has formed a charity, the Brian Littrell Healthy Heart Club for Kids, to "educate children and their families regarding the benefits of adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle."

RELATED ARTICLE:
2005: Brian Littrell dishes on how fatherhood changed his life
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