With the evolution of medical technology and the practice of ultrasound in pregnant women during the first 5-6 weeks of pregnancy, your doctor may notice and tell you that it seems you have twins but shockingly, on the next ultrasound control, the same doctor tells you that in your uterus is only one fetus. This is called the vanishing twin syndrome. The twin fetus dies in your uterus and it is absorbed by your body or by its brother’s body. Usually, the absorption is complete and no risks are involved but some very strange cases has been recorded, such as the baby born pregnant with her own twins.
General information on the vanishing twin syndrome
Doctors estimate that this phenomenon may be visible in one out of the eight pregnancies.
Vanishing twin syndrome occurs when a first ultrasound control confirmed the presence of two amniotic sacks but after a further examination, it is revealed the presence of only one amniotic sack.
The vanishing twin is a fetus who dies in the womb and then partially or completely absorbed by the mother or brother.
Causes for the vanishing twin syndrome
There are few causes that can cause the death of one of the twins in the womb, and among them are poorly implanted placenta, an abnormality that can cause organ failure or a partial or complete lack of organs in the affected fetus.
However, there may be a genetic abnormality which is incompatible with life. In many cases, the what is thought to be a twin is, in fact, an empty ovule that does not grow beyond the early stages of embryogenesis.
As in the case of spontaneous abortion, there are no specific causes for the miscarriage of the vanished twin. Often, a spontaneous abortion is due to placental abnormalities or genetic abnormalities.
Consequences of vanishing twin syndrome
From the physical point of view, if the twin was lost in the first trimester, there are no complications for the mother or the other twin.
However, there may be some consequences for the surviving fetus if its twin survived until the second or the third trimester of pregnancy. In this situation, the surviving fetus may develop cerebral palsy and his mother can give birth prematurely. Also, in some rare cases, the remaining cells of the dead twin may still develop inside its brother leading to abnormalities, from hermaphrodite babies and babies with more limbs, to a baby born pregnant with her own twins.
Diagnosis of the vanishing twin syndrome
Diagnosis involves the development of laboratory studies or imaging surveys, such as ultrasound, or amniocentesis.
Treatment for vanishing twin syndrome
There is no treatment for this syndrome and, in regular cases, no special medical care is required after the death of one of the twins in the womb.
There are several risks that vanishing twin syndrome involved, such as premature labor, birth canal obstruction, or the death of the second fetus, too, due to chorioamnionitis or placental rupture.
Baby Born Pregnant with Her Own Twins
The cases of babies who born pregnant with their own twins are extremely rare and need medical surgery to remove the twins from the babies’ wombs or stomachs. This condition is also known as Fetus in fetu and is occurring in one out of 500,000 births, worldwide, while lesser than 200 cases have been recorded officially.
Only two cases have gone viral in media and on the Internet.
A baby in China.
A baby born pregnant with her own twins in China suffered a medical intervention for the removal of the twins inside her.
Fetuses inside the baby’s womb were between 8 and 10 weeks and were presenting formed arms, legs, spines, ribs, intestines, and each one of them had once cord. More than that, the fetuses were even covered with skin.
One fetus weighed 14.2 grams, while the other 9.3 grams.
Doctors have successfully done the twins removal intervention at a hospital in Hong Kong and the little girl was sent home healthy eight days later.
A baby in Saudi Arabia.
Doctors at a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, faced with an unusual case. A baby born pregnant with her own twin.
The little girl was brought to this world by a C-section intervention, and she presented a suspicious bulge in the stomach area, so that was subject to the medical investigations that followed her birth.
The doctors were shocked to discover that the baby was pregnant. In fact, their explanation was that the girl’s mother had been pregnant with twins but fetuses developed abnormally. Therefore, one twin was absorbed by the girl’s body, but kept developing.
The girl underwent a surgery after which the fetus of 500 grams and 12 cm in length has been removed.
Other weird cases and possible consequences of vanishing twin syndrome
In Malaysia, a 15 years old boy underwent a surgical intervention to get his twin removed from his abdomen. The twin was completely formed with arms, legs, organs, and even genitals.
Rarely, babies with more limbs are born. The dead twin’s cells are not totally absorbed by its brother’s body, and keep developing by their own.
Vanishing twin syndrome can also lead to tumors if the dead twins cells are not completely absorbed. The cells of the dead twins may develop in one part of the other twin’s body and may keep developing at a very slow pace for years, eventually becoming tumors. These tumors are usually benign, but if present in the brain or inside or in the proximity of vital organs they can be life-threatening.
As regarding the genetics, the surviving twin’s DNA may contain the genetic information of the vanished twin.
Another case was recorded in a woman at her 60s of age which went to the doctor for a regular control and discovered that in her womb was a calcified fetus. The fetus was not absorbed by her body or her son’s body but remained in the womb where it got calcified.
So, a baby born pregnant with her own twins, or malformations and abnormalities caused by vanishing twin syndrome, are not the only weird consequences of this syndrome. Tumors, calcified fetuses, DNA disorders and many others can be the consequences of vanishing twin syndrome.
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