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Doctors discover teeth inside baby's brain tumor

It sounds like something out of a Sci-Fi movie - doctors find teeth formed inside a baby's brain tumor.

Teeth in brain tumor
The New England Journal of Medicine

But this story is not science fiction, it's all real and was reported in Science News Wednesday.

A four-month old baby in Maryland may be the first person to have had teeth form in his brain as a result of a specific type of rare brain tumor.

Doctors felt something was wrong when the child's head was growing faster than average. A brain scan showed a tumor containing structures that looked like teeth. The tumor was removed and it did in deed include several fully formed teeth.

An analysis of the tumor showed the child had a craniopharyngioma, a rare brain tumor that can grow to be larger than a golf ball.

Researchers always suspected that these tumors produce from the same cells involved in making teeth, but this is the first time they had ever seen them.

Dr. Narlin Beaty performed the boy's surgery and says, "It's not every day you see teeth in any type of tumor in the brain. In a craniopharyngioma, it's unheard of."

Teeth have been found in people's brains before, but only in tumors known as teratomas, which are unique among tumors because they contain all three of the tissue types found in an early-stage human embryo, Beaty said. In contrast, craniopharyngiomas have only one layer of tissue.

The boy is progressing well in his development. He will need to receive hormone treatments for the rest of his life.