A baby in Israel shocked doctors after she was born with a twin inside her stomach.
“We were surprised to discover that it was an embryo,” neonatology expert Omer Globus told the Times of Israel about the bizarre condition, which occurred earlier this month at the Assuta Medical Center in Ashdod.
Doctors first noticed something was awry after performing a late-pregnancy ultrasound on the mother, whereupon they noticed that the fetus’ stomach was enlarged.
Following the baby’s birth, medical professionals performed X-rays and other tests on the newborn, which confirmed that she indeed harbored another bun in her own oven. According to Globus, the second baby was not a fully-formed fetus, but rather a partially-developed embryo with some bones and a heart.
As it turns out, the infant actually suffered from “fetus in fetu” — which means “fetus within fetus” — an unusual condition in which an otherwise healthy baby develops an abnormal twin inside its abdomen, Live Science reported. The Russian-doll-evoking malady is extremely rare, affecting only about 1 in 500,000 births.
It’s unclear what causes the embryonic rarity. However, scientists believe the prenatal plus-one is a “parasitic twin” that forms when one fetus is absorbed by another during an identical-twin pregnancy.
“It happens as part of the fetal development process when there are cavities that close during development and one of the embryos enters such a space,” explained Globus. “The fetus inside partially develops but does not live and remains there.”
Fortunately, doctors were able to successfully remove the embryo, and the newborn girl is expected to make a full recovery.
This isn’t the first prenatal abnormality to astound doctors. In 2016, an extremely rare two-headed baby was born in Indonesia.