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44-year-old fetus

44-year-old fetus discovered inside elderly Brazilian woman

Thursday, February 20, 2014 by: L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
Tags: 44-year-old fetus, lithopedion, elderly woman

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(NaturalNews) Impregnated over 44 years ago, a Brazilian woman was shocked when doctors told her that there was a baby still inside her. The 84-year-old woman visited a doctor when she started feeling pains in her pelvic region. When the doctor told her that the pains were coming from a 44-year-old stone fetus, her jaw must have fell to the floor.

44-year-old lithopedion 'stone baby' found in woman's abdomen

But that's exactly what X-rays revealed -- a stone baby. This rare medical phenomenon happens when a fetus develops in the abdomen rather than the uterus. As the fetus slowly dies due to lack of blood supply, he/she cannot exit the mother's body. Surgery is typically used to remove the baby, but in rare cases, the baby stays inside the mom and calcifies into stone.

According to Dr. Kim Garcsi, of the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, "[T]he condition is so rare it has only been recorded approximately 300 times in medical literature."

Abdominal pregnancies make up about one in 10,000 deliveries. In this rare instance, caregivers 40 years ago believed the fetus had aborted, since the mother's stomach stopped growing. They were wrong; the baby stayed in the pelvic region, where he/she turned to stone.

The stone fetus is called a lithopedion. Litho- is the Greek prefix meaning "stone," and -pedion is the Greek suffix meaning "child." The fetus was estimated to weigh around 4 pounds. The fetus resembled a baby statue. See pictures of stone fetuses here.

Immune system naturally protects the body from foreign objects, calcifies them

After the fetus dies, the mother's immune system goes to work protecting her own body from the fetus that is deemed by the body to be a "foreign object." In this case, the mother's body had been encasing and calcifying a fetus for over 40 years!

"When you get old cartilage in the knee, it calcifies," Garcsi explains. The calcification of the tissue protects the mother from infection, but also means the "stone" baby can remain in the abdomen undetected for decades.

"Most of the time people find these and [sometimes] even after they're found and don't do anything about it because they're totally asymptomatic," said Garcsi.

X-rays revealed not only the bones of the arms, legs and spine of the 44-year-old fetus but also bones of the face and ribs. The fetus, which doctors believe died at between 20 and 28 weeks, was practically embalmed and entombed in the mother. The elderly Brazilian mom has opted to keep the fetus inside her, electing to live the rest of her life with her stone baby inside.

Two months ago, a similar case was uncovered in Colombia. That woman, 82 years old, decided to have her 40-year-old stone fetus removed.

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