An incredibly rare pregnancy stunned the medical world when a baby girl was born in Barranquilla, Colombia with her twin sister still growing inside her stomach via an umbilical cord.
Called “fetus-in-foetu” the rare occurrence first got documented in 1808, with less than 200 cases reported since. Thus far, doctors only picked up on the phenomenon after birth making this pregnancy a world and medical first.
When Monica Vega from Columbia reached 25 weeks of pregnancy doctors picked up what they thought to be a liver cyst in the unborn.
During the 35-week scan, the cyst turned out to be an amniotic sac with an embryo and umbilical cord attached to its sister inside her tiny stomach.
Monica Vega. | Source: YouTube/News Live Now
The rare condition develops similarly to Siamese twins, but it's just a matter of timing. If the embryo divides during the first week of conception, identical twins will form as a result.
However, if this division occurs during the second week after conception, the embryo’s don’t fully separate resulting in Siamese twins.
Stages of fetal development. | Source: Shutterstock.
A division during the third week causes the embryos to form unequally. The strongest of the two embryos connect to the mother via an umbilical cord, while the remaining fetus relies upon the stronger embryo for nutrients, which now grows around it.
At 37 weeks doctors decided that the growth of the absorbed twin posed a danger to the development of the organs in the healthy baby and when Monica started developing preeclampsia, an emergency caesarian got performed.
Monica Vega with her baby girl shortly after birth. | Source: YouTube/News Live Now
On February 22, after just being born, baby Itzamara Vega went straight into another surgery where doctors removed a half ounce, two-inch-long fetus, which had legs and arms but no brain or heart using keyhole surgery.
The newborn is reportedly doing well and is in a stable condition after her twin got removed from her tummy moments after coming into this world.
Monica Vega with her husband and baby girl. | Source: YouTube/News Live Now
A similar case occurred in India in 2017, when a 19-year-old mother in Mumbra, India gave birth to a boy, who doctors discovered had the same condition.
During a routine scan, a month before the baby boy came into this world, a radiologist noticed an unusual mass inside the baby’s fetal sac.
Once born, doctors discovered the twin situated just behind the newborn’s stomach. The twin had a small head and brain, but no skull. Doctors removed the 2.7-inch underdeveloped twin from the newborn, who is otherwise a happy and healthy baby boy.
In another rare case, Amy Howard’s newborns made medical history last year as the “rarest triplets in the world.”