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For most new parents, birth is a reason to celebrate. But it’s also a time when many things can go wrong. Additions to the family can cause stress as roles and relationships shift. Pregnancy and delivery are fraught with physical dangers to the mother. And, sadly, the baby does not always arrive as healthy as the family had hoped. These top five are some especially strange and tragic birth deformities.
Film fans learned of progeria in the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Formally called Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, this deformity causes rapid aging. The baby may look normal for the first year, but signs such as hair loss and slow growth soon appear. Progeria babies are not intellectually impaired. Life expectancy is only 13 years. Most babies born with progeria eventually die of strokes or heart problems. A gene mutation causes the condition.
When a baby looks pregnant at birth, it might have foetus-in-foetu. This happens when a parasitic twin grows inside of the viable twin. Medical literature has recorded fewer than 100 cases of foetus-in-foetu. The nonviable second twin must be surgically removed. In 2003, a 7-year-old Kazakh boy said he felt something moving inside his body. Doctors found a partially formed head with hair and teeth. Apparently the twin had been slowly growing the boy’s entire life, fed by his blood supply.
3 Craniopagus Parasiticus
Only 10 cases of craniopagus parasiticus have ever been documented. In this rare form of conjoined twins, commonly known as Siamese twins, two heads develop but only one body. In an Egyptian case of craniopagus parasiticus featured on the Oprah website, one of the heads could be smiling while the other cried. The only hope for survival is to remove the second head.
Babies with anencephaly are born with only minimally developed brains. They may lack the cerebrum, which is responsible for vision, touch, hearing, movement and thinking. These babies may also be missing bones that cover the front, back or sides of the head.
The Cyclops, that famous one-eyed monster, has its basis in fact. Cyclopia is a rare deformity where the baby’s eyes do not form separately. This condition manifests as two fused eyes or, in even rarer cases, only one. Scientists from the Department of Ophthalmology of Central Emek Hospital in Israel published a paper about a female baby with cyclopia born in 1982. She only lived 30 minutes. The researchers listed environmental factors which might cause this deformity, including contraceptives, antibiotics, lithium and rubella vaccine.