It is not unheard of for a less developed weaker twin to be absorbed by the stronger more developed twin during gestation. However, international media is reporting that a two year old boy – Xiao Feng – from Huaxi had his twin brother still inside his abdominal cavity.
Feng’s stomach had swollen and eventually he had a hard a difficult time breathing. Doctors performed a series of tests to determine the cause of the distention and discovered the conjoined twin. The two year old had emergency surgery in order to remove the fetus, who was 10 inches long and actually had fully formed limbs and spine.
A conjoined twin is an anomaly called cryptodidymus. This simply means that one fetus is smaller and underdeveloped and in the course of the gestation period, the smaller one is concealed in the larger, stronger more developed twin. Some conjoined twins can survive and live relatively healthy lives. They may share a limb or be connected at some point. In this particular case, the one absorbed the other.
Conjoined twins, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, occurs one time in every 200,000 live births. Live births. The Center also states that 40% to 60% of conjoined twins are still born. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) states that statistic differently. According to CHOP, conjoined twins occur once in every 50,000 to 60,000; however, most are stillborn.
Conjoined twins occur when the fertilized egg does not fully split. In identical twins the fertilized egg splits in half. Fraternal twins occur when two eggs are fertilized. Of the three types, conjoined twins are by far the most rare.
There are various organizations and support groups for families of multiple births. Here in Lancaster, the Lancaster County Mothers of Multiples meet monthly at the Westgate Baptists Church, 2235 Harrisburg Pike. They meet on the first Tuesday each month, except for July.
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