Doctors in Hong Kong report that they removed two fetuses from the abdomen of a 3-week-old girl who was born “pregnant.”
No, this isn’t a Weekly World News story involving aliens or divine intervention — it’s actually a medial condition known as “fetus in fetu” or “fetus-in-fetu.” It occurs approximately once in every 500,000 births, with fewer than 200 cases reported in literature, which makes this event big news in the medical community.
Dr. Yu Kai-man, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said tests were performed after a pair of tumors were detected in the newborn’s abdomen. However, when the doctors performed the operation they discovered that the growths were actually twin fetuses weighing 14.2 grams and 9.3 grams after 8 to 10 weeks of gestation. The fetuses each had four limbs, a spine, rib cage, intestines and anus, but were different in weight. Each also had an umbilical cord connected to a single placenta-like mass in the girl’s abdomen.
“It was almost impossible to detect during the prenatal checkup, as the embryo inside the baby was too small,” Yu said. “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, which has gone to the wrong place.”
While the true cause for this condition remains unclear, the doctors wrote in their study, “The theory of formation from monozygotic twins has been commonly implied in the literature.”
The surgery was successful, and the girl was discharged from hospital eight days later.
The discovery was originally made in November 2010 when they fetuses were removed from the infant’s abdomen; however, Yu and colleagues published the information in the February 2015 issue of the Hong Kong Medical Journal.