For a 30-year-old first-time mother in Mumbai, India, Thursday was a day of mixed emotions. She delivered a healthy boy along with a headless baby. The malformed foetus, known in medical terms as acardia monster baby, was stillborn, said doctors at Bombay Hospital, near New Marine Lines.
“The parents are still in a state of shock after seeing the stillborn baby,” said Dr Shilpa Ambekar, the gynaecologist who was treating the mother throughout the pregnancy. The incidence of acardia monster that occurs mainly in twins, is one per 40,000 live births. Dr Ambekar said the baby only had an abdomen and no head, neck or face.
“It had one limb as well as fingers emerging directly from the abdomen,” she said. Acardia is a rare malformation that occurs mainly in monizygous twins who develop from a single egg. The condition is characterised by the absence of a functioning heart. Doctors said the acardia twin survives like a parasite, drawing blood and nutrition from the normal twin.
As Thursday’s twin didn’t have a head or brain as well, the case is being called as acardius acephalus baby. The parents, who don’t want to be identified, were told about the problem during the fifth month of pregnancy. “They were offered medical termination of pregnancy, but the mother said she didn’t want to harm the normal twin. Hence, she decided to carry on with the pregnancy,” the doctor added.