Unbelievable Case of Baby Born With a Fetus in His Stomach

I can't imagine how terrifying it must be for a new parent to learn that their baby needs an operation. Newborns seem so incredibly fragile, and the idea of an infant having to endure surgery makes my heart ache for every family that's gone through it.

Any medical condition that requires surgery on a baby is surely a stressful situation—but wrap your head around this if you can: in Bangalore, India recently, a 2-month-old infant had an operation to remove a mass in his lower abdomen ... and it turned out to be a fetus.

A baby. Had a fetus. Inside his body


The baby's condition has a name: fetus in fetu. It's incredibly rare, occurring in only one of every 500,000 live births, but there have been a number of recorded cases worldwide:

• In Chile, doctors removed a 4-inch-long fetus from a newborn's stomach.

• A man in India had a body removed from his stomach when he was 36 years old.

• A 1-year-old girl in China survived a 10-hour procedure to fix her fetus in fetu condition—after superstitious neighbors started gossiping that the child was pregnant.

There are a couple of main theories about what causes fetus in fetu. One possibility is that the growth is a sort of dermoid cyst, but the more accepted theory is that the condition is brought on by the very early stage of a twin pregnancy when instead of separating, one fetus becomes trapped inside the other. This creates a situation where the parasitic twin (which does not have a brain or functioning organs and cannot survive on its own) lives off the host twin's blood supply, and if it continues to grow, inevitably causes major problems for the host twin.

Ninety percent of fetus in fetu cases are discovered before an infant is 18 months old, meaning they have to undergo surgery at a very young age, but the good news is that once the mass is removed, they're usually completely fine.

I have to say, this is one of the craziest medical conditions I've ever heard of, hands down. I don't even know as a parent how you'd deal with such a diagnosis, but thankfully these situations don't seem to have long-lasting negative effects. Hopefully that Bangalore baby is well on his way to recovery now—and he'll certainly have a hell of a story to tell someday.

Have you ever heard of fetus in fetu?

Image via Flickr/pinksherbet

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