Not a medical myth: Rare mermaid syndrome in the baby

Not a medical myth: Rare mermaid syndrome in the baby

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Doctors discover a virgin tail in the fetus, and the mother then ends the pregnancy
When you think of multi-virgins, Ariel the multi-virgin comes to mind. However, few people know that a rare congenital defect can lead to a real fusion of the legs. The whole thing is strongly reminiscent of a multi-virgin's tail. A 23-year-old woman from China has now decided to end her pregnancy and abort her child because it showed the signs of the defect on ultrasound images.

The mother-to-be in China has now terminated her pregnancy. Previously, it was found in the 23-year-old woman that her fetus grew a kind of multi-virgin tail instead of legs. The young woman was six months pregnant when the malformation was discovered. This congenital defect is also known as sirenomelia or mermaid syndrome.

What is multi-virgin syndrome?
The so-called multi-virgin syndrome is an extremely rare congenital malformation. With this defect, the legs of those affected grow together from the pelvis downwards. The disease usually goes hand in hand with a further malformation of the arms and also the internal organs. For this reason, affected children are usually not viable. As a rule, affected children are stillborn or die shortly after their birth. Very few cases are known worldwide in which those affected had a longer survival time.

Fetus had no bladder and crippled liver
The 23-year-old mother underwent an examination by various doctors in Yichang City, Hubei Province, China. They found that their unborn child was suffering from the so-called multi-virgin syndrome. The ultrasound examination of the abdomen clearly showed that the fetus did not have two legs but a kind of multi-virgin tail. In addition, the fetus lacked the bladder and had only a crippled liver, according to the doctors, according to the British daily Daily Mail. Although the mother had had the fetus for half a year, the mother ended her pregnancy. Physicians had previously estimated that the baby would only survive a few hours after birth.

The cause of the so-called sirenomelia is still unknown
The rare type of malformation is more common in twins. However, the cause of the sporadic malformation is not yet known. The disease manifests itself on average in one in 100,000 pregnancies. In less severe cases of the disease, the legs can be separated by surgery. Those affected can often lead a completely normal life afterwards.

American girl with mermaid syndrome was ten years old
The best documented case of sirenomelia concerned the American girl Shiloh Pepin. Despite 150 operations during her relatively short lifespan, the girl died at the age of ten, the Daily Mail reports. (as)

Author and source information

Video: UCSF Psychiatry Grand Rounds: iPSCs, Phenotypes, and Psychiatric Disease (July 2022).


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