The title may be a bit dramatic, but it is a serious condition that many people may not know about. While it may seem like newborns have eaten their twin, it is really called vanishing twin syndrome. In case this condition is unfamiliar to you, I will let you know what it involves before delving into those babies that “ate” their sibling.
Vanishing Twin Syndrome (or VTS, as I will refer to it for the remainder of the article), was only first recognized in 1945. It is when a twin or a multiple disappear sin the uterus during pregnancy, usually caused by a miscarriage of the one fetus. The tissue left over is usually absorbed by the remaining baby, placenta or even the mother. This is what makes it seem like a twin has vanished, because it has. It does not just happen to twins either, if a woman is carrying triplets she can lose one baby while the remaining two absorb the dead tissue.
There was a point in time, believe it or not, where doctor’s did not have ultrasound machines. Ultrasound is the common way that doctors can tell if a twin or multiple has vanished. It is there one ultrasound, and gone the next. Before they had this technology, they would only find out when they examined the placenta following delivery.
Since the use of ultrasounds, they are diagnosing more and more cases of VTS, which may have gone unnoticed before. The rough estimates are that within pregnancies containing multiples, VTS occurs in about 21-30% of those pregnancies. Here are 15 of those stories.
15 Thrown Away
Sadly, when babies are born looking a little different than you or I, they are discarded by family. This is sometimes done out of un-loving families, or a family that can not handle the medical attention this child will need. A baby has been born with his parasitic twin semi-absorbed in his body. He was born with two extra legs and an extra penis.
It was almost like the bottom half of his body was repeated, as you can see in the shocking photographs. Children with conditions like this can be operated on, and will go on to live a normal and successful life. Lack of awareness of the help available, leads many people in developing countries to dump their babies it he rivers and streams. The baby is not doing fine, and has received medical attention to remove the extra body parts.
14 Baby Kang
Our next entry comes to us again from China, and her name is Kang. Kang seemed like a healthy and normal little girl, until her parent’s started to notice something strange. They noticed that their little girl’s stomach was continuing to grow, and would not stop. The growth was happening rapidly and they were growing concerned that it was a tumor. It was so swollen, that she looked “pregnant” and was teased by neighbours and called a “monster.”
After doctor’s had taken a look at Kang, they noticed that in the little girl’s stomach was a twin that was absorbed in utero. The second baby never fully developed, but it was actually continuing to grow inside the baby like a parasite, feeding off the host. It was so serious in Kang’s case that her life was being threatened by her twin, as it was crushing her organs. The Red Cross came to her rescue, and she was able to receive life saving surgery.
13 “The Twin My Baby Will Never Know”
One mother shares the story of how she was once the mother to twins, albeit very briefly. She has a 6-month old daughter, Adriana, who was initially one of a pair, but due to VTS she will never grow up with her sibling. The mother has kept all of her ultrasound photographs to one day show her daughter the twin sibling she will never know.
This mother knows that even though she grieves, she can not compare her situation to another as she still has one beautiful, healthy baby girl at the end of it. She became aware that something was wrong at a 12-week scan. They saw two little babies, but one had stopped growing at the 8-week mark. They had to leave the miscarried baby in there, and it was absorbed into the surviving twin. If there were no ultrasound machines, she would never have known she was carrying twins.
12 Two Heads Are Better Than One
In another case of parasitic twins, we find another baby born in India who was born with her twin’s head protruding out of her stomach. The twin head was not alive in any sense of the word, but had been feeding off her blood supply, making surgery to remove the head very important. The picture enough is shocking, and looks very photoshopped, but it’s not, it is very real.
Along with a protruding head, there was also a deformed hand sticking out as well. The surgery to remove the parasitic twin took 4-hours but it saved the living twin’s life. Doctor’s stated that this is one of the rarest forms of parasitic twins, which makes it very rare, as the chance of parasitic twins already sits at a 1 in 1 million chance. The surgery was tricky as the two did share blood vessels, which is what was keeping the twin head “alive” this whole time.
11 Baby Dominique
Dominique is a little baby girl who is from the Ivory Coast, who was born needing life saving surgery. She was born with an extra set of legs as well as a second spinal cord. A team in Illinois offered the life-saving surgery to remove the extra body parts. One of the doctor’s stated that it was as if the twin from the waist down had been attached to the back of her neck.
This is what is known as a parasitic twin. When a twin dies in utero and attaches somewhere on the body of the surviving twin. It is able to “survive” by leeching on the alive baby and taking what it needs to survive. That is why they refer to it as a parasite. On the back of her neck, they found a pelvis, bladder and functional legs THAT MOVED. If they did not remove this, Dominique would have most likely been paralysed.
10 Pregnant Newborn?
When a baby is born, they are beautiful and perfect, and twins are for some reason, even more cute! It is usually a shock for parents when they find out they are expecting more than one baby, but what happens when they find out after their baby is born. When Muhammad Hakim was born, nothing seemed to be wrong, but as time went on, the baby’s stomach grew and grew.
When the baby was 10-months old, they did an ultrasound on the stomach of baby Hakim and found something very shocking. They found a little baby. It almost looked as if the 10-month old was carrying its own child. The ultrasound image looks just the same as a pregnant woman’s would carrying their baby. The twin baby is not alive, it is feeding off baby Hakim, but it would never be able to grow and thrive in the normal world, and needed to be removed for the health of the living baby.
9 Another Pregnant Baby!
Another baby in India is taking over the news after he was born carrying the remains of a twin brother in his stomach. As soon as the baby was born, doctor’s discovered that something was very wrong. Behind the baby’s stomach they found a half-formed male baby with legs, one arm and a brain. The doctor’s were forced to operate on the newborn, and removed the twin that was an astonishing 7 cm in length.
The newborn boy is doing well and has recovered from the surgery better than the doctor’s imagined he would. The twin inside the baby did have a small head and a brain, but it did not have a skull. This condition is not common, and there are only about 200 recorded cases of the condition in the world. That is probably due to some not noticing for years that they are carrying a dead twin.
8 Twin For Dinner
A baby girl was born in Hong Kong, and while she was as beautiful as any baby could appear to be, there was something very wrong. She seemed to have a growth of some sort on her left side. It was a large mass between the baby girl’s liver and her left kidney. It was soon discovered to be the remains of her twin who had died in utero and had been absorbed by the living sibling.
The condition this baby had is called fetus-in-fetu and it is quite rare. It only affects about 1 in every 500, 000 births. Doctors soon found out that the girl had actually absorbed two of her siblings. She was one of triplets, and when they looked deeper into the mass, they found two partially formed fetus-like objects.
7 Ate Too Much!
A baby boy was born in Iraq, after he had “eaten” his twin brother in utero. It is almost a case of conjoined twins gone wrong. Karam, who is seven months old was born with a rare condition where his conjoined twin did not form properly, and who was then absorbed by Karam. Instead of growing his own body, the twin’s underdeveloped body was absorbed into the living twin and became parasitic.
As I have explained before, that means that it was feeding off the live twin, which is why the limbs are able to attach and do not die off. They need to be surgically removed. They were able to remove then after extensive surgery. They removed an extra pair of arms and legs from Karam. The photograph is shocking, and we are glad that they were able to remove these limbs and give this little boy a normal childhood.
6 It Went Un-Noticed?
It’s not always just cases of babies being born having consumed their twin, sometimes it can be a while before anyone notices that a twin has been eaten by their sibling. Natashjja Heming, from Australia, has claims that ever since she was 13, she has felt a “pulling” feeling and sharp pains on her lift side, around her pelvic area.
Heming dealt with the pain until she was 22, and decided to push doctor’s to find out what was wrong with her. Their first test was a standard ultrasound where they did find a cyst the size of a peach. It’s technical name is a dermoid, and that is a sac-like growth that has been present since birth. Within this dermoid, they found hair, three teeth, brain matter, spinal fluid, and skin tissue. This was an absorbed twin, and it was inside Heming from birth until she was 22.
5 They Know They Are Different
We rarely hear from these twins when they grow up, their feelings toward their sibling that died in utero, and then they having “eaten” or absorbed them. Due to some women not being able to detect a twin in the past, some women go their whole life without knowing they were a one of a pair.
One woman took to an online forum to explain her experience. She states that she always felt there was something different about her from her other siblings. She was a very athletic person, but became concerned when she found that her left side was a little weaker than her right. After testing, it was determined that she had more than a handful of organ deformities on her left side, including a tooth in her sinus. They told her that she had a twin in utero who had died, and been absorbed by her.
4 Twin Sense
There are always tales of twins having the ability to communicate with each other without words, that they know each other better than anyone. This makes sense, as they have shared every single aspect of life together from conception. One woman always had the feeling that she was a twin, that she was supposed to have a twin brother. She said as much to her aunt one day who told her to talk to her mother.
When she talked to her mother later, she was told that she was in fact one of a twin, and that her brother had died in utero just past the 9-week mark of pregnancy. It was VTS, and the body of her brother had been absorbed by her. She was not suffering any defects from it, but she no longer feels empty.
3 Isn’t Easy At Any Age
It doesn’t matter if you are a baby with a lost twin, or about to enter your life as a senior, the feeling of being a twin and losing that twin will always be hard. Especially if you “ate” your twin in the womb. A woman who is now 55-years old, was working with a professional who does work with muscle testing. Upon describing all of her pain, both physical and mental, they discovered that she was a vanishing twin survivor.
That she had a twin in utero who did not make it, and was absorbed into her body. Her mother is no longer alive, so she is unable to ask if there was anything unusual about her pregnancy. There would have been no way for her mother to know she was carrying twins unless she had experienced any miscarriage symptoms while pregnant.
2 There Is Just One
A 13-year old girl is trying to deal with the pain of losing a twin that she didn’t even know. Her story is quite unique. When her mom was pregnant, she always believed it was with one baby, that’s all she was every told. Then at some point in her pregnancy she started to bleed, and was told that she was having a miscarriage. When I all passed, they did a test to make sure that everything was back to normal, and there was no infection.
The doctors and the mom was shocked when they said there was another baby in there, perfectly healthy and growing. She was pregnant with twins, and did not know it until the one (who was a boy) passed away and was absorbed into the surviving twin. Now, a 13-year old is struggling on how to cope with losing a sibling she never knew.
1 How Do You Not Know?
Most of our cases have been of babies being born without a twin, either by VTS or a parasitic twin. It is very rare case where a grown man discovers that he is carrying his dead twin, and has been his whole life. In India, Sanju Bhagat had a very swollen stomach, so much that he appeared to be 9-months pregnant and was afraid to go outside.
Bhagat was 36 years old when an ambulance rushed him to the hospital, and the doctor’s got read to remove what they believed to be a large tumour. They found something completely different when they started the tumour removal procedure. It presented nothing like you would think a tumour would. Doctor’s were horrified when they found remains of a baby in his stomach. They found a lot of bones, limbs, genetalia, hair and jaws. Bhagat was born with his twin dead inside of him and spent a good portion of his life with this condition and no one knew.
Sources: deccanchronicle.com, dailymail.co.uk, independent.co.uk, mysteriousuniverse.org, abcnews.go.com, thesun.co.uk, cbsnews.com, wombtwin.com, cosmopolitan.com, telegraph.co.uk, americanpregnancy.org