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‘Stone baby’: Elderly woman’s calcified 4 lb. fetus went undetected for 40-years

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A rare 40-year-old “stone baby” is discovered inside an elderly woman after recently seeing a doctor. When an 82-year-old Columbian woman went to the doctor with pelvic pain, the x-rays revealed a “stone baby,” which had calcified in her body. This 'stone baby' was from an abdominal pregnancy more than 40 years ago, according to ABC News on Dec. 13.

The scientific term for a calcified fetus is lithopedion and it is a rare occurrence. The fetus is formed in the abdominal cavity instead of the womb and because there’s not enough blood supply for life support of the fetus, it dies.

An abdominal pregnancy happens in about 1 in 10,000 births, but this is usually known early on in pregnancy and the dead fetus is removed before a stone baby can form. This woman didn’t know she was pregnant at the time and she was unaware of the calcified fetus for the 40-years she carried it around.

The body calcifies any foreign matter, so this was a natural occurrence for the woman’s body to turn the dead fetus into “stone.” Dr. Kim Garcsi explains the calcification of the fetus by comparing it to another calcification procedure more common place. Garcsi said: “When you get old cartilage in the knee, it calcifies.”

The calcification of the tissue protects the mother from infection in the case of the “stone baby.” This also means this calcified fetus can stay in the abdomen and remain undetected by the mother, as it did in this case for decades, explains Garcsi. The doctor also said:

"Most of the time people find these and [sometimes] even after they're found and don't do anything about it because they're totally asymptomatic."

The Colombian woman’s “stone baby” weighs four pounds and she is slated for surgery to have the calcified fetus removed. As seen on the picture of the x-ray above, the calcified baby is in the fetus position and that's the way this "stone baby" has stayed for the last four decades.

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