Mainland Chinese baby born in Hong Kong hospital found with twin fetuses in her abdomen
A baby girl born to mainland parents in Hong Kong was found to be "pregnant" with two tumours in her abdomen which were later found to be the fetuses of twin babies.
The girl, born in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in November 2010, had to undergo surgery at three weeks old to remove the fetuses.
The fetuses, believed to be of 8 to 10 weeks of gestation, each had four limbs, a spine, rib cage, intestines and anus, but were different in weight.
The two fetuses, one weighing 14.2 grams and the other 9.3 grams, each had an umbilical cord connected to a single placenta-like mass.
The girl made a good recovery and was discharged from the Yau Ma Tei hospital eight days after the operation.
The abnormality, called "fetus in fetu", is reported in the latest issue of the Hong Kong Medical Journal published today.
The condition is extremely rare and occurs in 1 in 500,000 births in the world. Less than 200 cases have ever been reported in literature, and to date, this was only the second regional case reported, the study said.
Dr Yu Kai-man, a specialist in obstetrics and gyneacology, believed it was the first documented case in the city. He explained fetus in fetu is a rare condition of external fertilisation embryo, and the fetus was unlikely to survive.
"It was almost impossible to detect during the prenatal check-up, as the embryo inside the baby was too small," said Yu, a former professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong.
"Since it is impossible for the little girl to have conceived the pregnancy on her own, the fertilisation of the twin fetuses, of course, belongs to her parents, which has gone to the wrong place."
The report said the reason behind the abnormality is still unknown, and that the World Health Organisation classified it as a variant of mature teratoma, a type of cancer.
But it suggested it was possibly linked to the mother having multiple abortions. The report said that more evidence was needed to confirm either theory.
"The widespread use of antenatal ultrasound in early gestation may provide more concrete evidence … and shed light on this intriguing condition," the report said.
A hospital spokeswoman would not comment on the case.