In a baffling report out of India, a baby girl with 'three heads' was delivered by doctors in a private healthcare facility on July 11 in Uttar Pradesh. Reported from the Etah district of the state, the mother experienced unnatural pain before being rushed to the hospital for the delivery.
The baby's body is also under-developed, The Sun reported earlier this week. The mother and baby have since been moved to the Etah District Hospital for further investigations and surgery.
The three 'heads' as described by the reports are abnormal potrusions caused by a rare congenital medical condition called encephalocele - doctors reportedly said.
While the cause of the condition is unknown, babies born with it usually have a portion of brain tissue and associated structures outside the skull - which is what looks like 'heads'.
Encephalocele occurs when the neural tube - a narrow channel that folds and closes during the third and fourth weeks of pregnancy to form the brain and spinal cord - does not close properly. According to the Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 12,200 babies born in the United States each year have this condition.
Surgery is commonly done to separate the 'heads' or the sacs and to place the protruding part of the brain and the membranes covering it back into the skull. Children born with encephalocele have a low survival rate of 55 per cent and most children who survive surgery will have some neuro-development issues varying based on individual conditions.
According to the CDC, taking 400 micrograms of the B vitamin, folic acid, every day before and during early pregnancy can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine, such as encephalocele.