Boy complaining of stomach pain found to have dead foetus inside him

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WHEN a four-year-old boy complained of a stomach ache last week, doctors suspected a tumor.

Doctors initially thought it might be a tumor but "were shocked to discover a developed dead foetus in his abdomen in the ultra-sonography and CT scan", the IBT reported.

"Foetus in fetu" is a condition in which a malformed foetus is found inside the body of its twin. "The boy is all right now, still under close observation".

The abnormality has an incidence of one in 500,000 live births, with less than 100 reported cases worldwide, according to a 2005 case report in ANNALS Academy of Medicine Singapore. However, instead of both the embryos developing in mother's belly, one embryo reaches the body of another embryo through umbilical cord and starts feeding on it. In other words, it is a case of one child growing inside of other child while still in mother's womb.

The two main explanations for the occurrence are that the mass is a very highly differentiated form of a cyst, and that the "parasitic" foetus was a twin of the now host twin.

In medical terms, it is called "foetus in fetu" where mother conceives twins.

The foetus is found in the abdomen in 80 per cent of cases, although there have been reports of it occurring in the skull.

It is for this reason that only 200 cases of it happening have ever been reported.

After the birth it becomes an abdominal mass but can have health implications to the surviving baby.

However, the scans revealed that the little boy did not have a tumor.

Further investigation found it consisted of a breast and an arm which included a shoulder blade and two fingers.

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