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Roona Begum

A new life for baby Roona

Doctors conducted what could be the final round of surgery on  two-year-old Roona Begum to correct a rare disorder that caused her head to balloon to twice its normal size.

Roona, whose plight attracted international sympathy, underwent several rounds of surgery in May and June when doctors drained excess fluid from her head and dramatically reduced the size of her skull.

But she returned to the same hospital near New Delhi earlier last month for what doctors hope will be the final surgery which will see some of the bone removed from her skull which will then be rebuilt.

Roona, who lives with her impoverished parents in a village in India's remote northeast, was born with hydrocephalus, a potentially fatal condition that causes cerebrospinal fluid to build up on the brain.

Her condition caused her head to swell to a circumference of 94 centimetres (37 inches), putting pressure on her brain and making it impossible for her to sit upright.

Publication of pictures taken by an AFP photographer prompted the hospital to treat Roona for free, and the surgeries which followed saw her head circumference shrink to 58 centimetres.

She was first admitted to the hospital in April where she spent 105 days before being discharged in August.

She will undergo another procedure in December to compress her head further.

Although Roona's skull is likely to remain large, she has a good chance of developing normally, provided her neck muscles can grow strong enough to support her head, doctors have said.