In a strange but true medical phenomenon, a baby girl who was born in China with what doctors believed were two tumors in her abdomen was actually pregnant.
Talk about babies having babies!
Of course, the twin fetuses discovered in the baby’s abdomen were not actually hers. Instead, as the Hong Kong Medical Journal reported this week, the two fetuses were actually fertilized eggs that ended up being absorbed into the baby’s body as she developed in her mother’s womb.
“Since it is impossible for the little girl to have conceived the pregnancy on her own, the fertilization of the twin fetuses, of course, belongs to her parents,” Dr. Yu Kai-man told the South China Morning Post.
The fetuses were not located in the baby girl’s womb, but were instead located between the baby’s liver and left kidney, where they had been absorbed. One of the absorbed fetuses weighed half an ounce, while the other weighed a third of an ounce.
The fetuses were estimated to be 10 weeks old, according to the original report, which also detailed the physical development of the two fetuses.
“Histology was consistent with twin fetuses-in-fetu, revealing two fetiform masses each with an umbilical cord connecting to a common placenta-like mass. Despite a difference in the weight of the twin fetuses-in-fetu, the level of organogenesis was identical and corresponded to fetuses of 10 weeks of gestation. Each mass had four limbs, intact skin, rib cage, intestines, anus, ambiguous genitalia, primitive brain tissue and a spine with ganglion cells in the cord. Although considered a mature teratoma in the current World Health Organization classification, the theory of formation from multiple pregnancies has been commonly implied in more recent literature. The true aetiology of this rare condition remains unclear.”
As the original report mentioned, the World Health Organization classifies the fetuses as “mature teratoma,” meaning that the fetuses are classified as a type of benign tumor that, according to the National Cancer Institute, often “contains several different types of tissue such as hair, muscle, and bone.”
The baby herself has long since recovered from the surgery, leaving the hospital after just eight days in recovery. The removal of the two fetuses from her body actually took place in 2010, when she was just three weeks old, but the findings of the surgery were just published this week. The rare condition is called “fetus in fetu.” Doctors estimate that it happens once is every 500,000 births and that it is rarely reported. In fact, it has only been documented 200 times in medical history.