The parents of a one-year-old girl were growing concerned over the size of their infant’s head. An abnormally large head can flag an underlying medical condition so they took the child for a check-up at the Huashan Hospital at Fudan University in China.
After a medical examination, CT scans revealed that there was a mix-up between the organs of the surviving and unborn twin. The unborn twin was growing inside its sibling during the pregnancy and had developed upper limbs, bones and fingernails due to a medical condition called “fetus-in-fetu.”
For over a year after the child’s birth, no one noticed the extra organs inside the surviving twin’s body. The doctors only caught on when the parents took her to the hospital due to impairments in her motor skills and an enlarged skull.
According to the imaging tests, the unborn twin was pressing against her sibling’s brain.
As for what kept the fetus going, the blood supply from the sibling made it possible to stay alive but eventually, it was removed with surgery. If this condition continued to go undetected, the little girl may have struggled with a serious chronic condition.
The little girl also faces a condition called hydrocephalus, which causes a “build-up of fluid in the brain that can cause an enlarged head, extreme fatigue and seizures.”
Dr. Zongze Li, a neurologist who examined the girl, said: “The intracranial foetus-in-foetu is proposed to arise from unseparated blastocysts. The conjoined parts develop into the forebrain of the host foetus and envelop the other embryo during neural plate folding.”
The twins were truly inseparable until the medical intervention.