In a bizzare case, a Masvingo woman who went into labour on Wednesday evening, left nursing staff at the provincial hospital’s maternity wing stunned after giving birth to twins, one of them headless. The other baby who appeared normal, died a few minutes after delivery as the child had an extraordinarily very big head, a condition medical experts said was incompatible with life.
While hospital authorities refused to disclose the identity of the woman who was still admitted to hospital yesterday, sources said her condition was stable. Sources at the hospital said nursing staff who helped the woman to deliver were left shell-shocked after she gave birth to a headless child after prematurely going into labour.
The duration of the pregnancy could not be established when the woman eventually gave birth to the premature twins. Acting Masvingo provincial medical director Dr Amadeous Shamu, yesterday confirmed the birth of a headless child at Masvingo General Hospital, saying the situation was caused by congenital abnormalities.
“It’s true there’s a case like that (birth of a headless baby) but it’is very rare to have such a situation though it’s generally known as a congenital abnormality, which is basically a deformation that occurs to a foetus during the early stages of pregnancy,’’ he said.
“The headless foetus was incompatible with life after premature birth, while the other twin who was born alive but with a very big head, died after a few minutes,’’ added Dr Shamu.
He said the mother of the twins was still detained to monitor her condition. “We can’t unfortunately disclose the identity of the woman save to say that her condition is stable. It’s very rare for a person to give birth to a child without a head,’’ said Dr Shamu.
He, however, said the deformity on the headless foetus might have been caused by a neural tube defect during the organogenesis stage. “The organogenesis stage is the stage when organs begin to develop in a pregnancy and there might have been a neural tube defect that caused deformities on the foetus resulting in it being delivered without a head,’’ added Dr Shamu.
Prominent Masvingo-based medical practitioner, Dr Kudzai Masinire, said it was not uncommon to have a child born with congenital abnormalities. Dr Masinire said such abnormalities might be caused by chromosomal defects or nutritional deficiencies that impinged on the development of certain organs in the foetus.
He also said environmental factors might have a bearing on congenital abnormalities. “The environment might also cause a child to be born with defects like what has been happening in places like Hiroshima in Japan where the effects of radioactive material from nuclear bombs has been causing birth of children with congenital abnormalities,’’ said Dr Masinire.