For over five years, a 17-year-old teenager from India noticed that her abdomen was gradually growing. Sometimes, she would also experience abdominal pain and a feeling of fullness although she hadn’t eaten anything. She then decided to seek medical help to find out what her condition was. It turned out that the large lump in her stomach was her ‘twin’.
Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, our culture, and history, reported that the doctors conducted a CT scan on the teen. They discovered that she had an extremely rare condition called “fetus in fetu,” a disorder when an abnormal fetus develops inside a person’s body. It is estimated that this occurs in only about one in 500,000 people across the world. In medical literature, less than 200 cases of this condition have been reported. Of these, only seven were in people ages 15 or older.
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In the report published in the journal BMJ Case Reports, the authors revealed that the teen’s large abdomen contained multiple bones “resembling the shape of vertebrae, ribs, and long bones.” According to Science Alert, an independently run news website that covers the most important developments in the world of science and scientific research, the authors wrote: “It was showing fat density areas, soft tissue and multiple calcified density components of various sizes and shapes resembling the shape of vertebrae, ribs, and long bones. This mass was causing displacement and compression of adjacent abdominal viscera.”
Up until now, researchers haven’t found what causes fetus in fetu. However, they think that the condition is likely a rare case of “parasitic twins,” in which one identical twin is absorbed by the other during early pregnancy. A 2010 review paper on parasitic twins published in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery explained that the parasitic twin is dependent on the body systems of the "host" twin to survive. Other studies theorized that fetus in fetu is a type of tumor that can contain all three of the major cell types that are found in an early-stage human embryo called teratoma.
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