With the rise in radiation levels and exposure to harmful reactants in the air, mutations are becoming much more common of late. Cases of human babies being born with 5 limbs, multiple organs, inverted feet, and other gross deformities are rising by the day. And doctors suspect that such a trend will immensely affect the infant mortality rate in the future. Though most mutated babies have underdeveloped or abnormal sized organs, there have been some cases where the child’s extra growth is fully developed and appears to be quite normal. The most recent of such cases occurred in Karachi, where a baby was born with two fully developed heads complete with facial features attached to a single body. Here we take a closer look at the baby’s condition at birth, the interesting anatomy of its body, and its final fate.
Polycephaly – the condition and its occurrence
Polycephaly is a rare yet possible condition that can occur in any species of the animal kingdom. Though more commonly observed in reptiles, polycephaly has a high mortality rate and almost 99 percent of cases with such a condition will not survive for more than a few days. But there have been some cases in which the animal with two heads has survived longer and indeed lived in harmony despite having two thinking centers. One example is the two headed albino Honduran milk snake that caused quite stir just a few month back. Despite having two heads that have equal control over the snake’s motion, feeding habits and all other motor functions that snake leads a rather happy life in the lab. But of course in the case of humans the story is a little more different.
The baby which stunned the world
Human cases of polycephaly are very rare and almost one in 200,000 live births comes close to even having such a condition. Though a number of grossly deformed two headed babies have been recorded throughout time, only a very few have had fully developed features like the Karachi baby, and that’s what makes this case very special. The baby was born in a quaint private clinic, in Korangi, Pakistan to a young couple. Initially the baby seemed to function normally, but within hours, doctors figured out the baby had respiratory problems and was transferred to the National Institute of Child Health (NCIH) in the capital. Upon admission the doctors immediately declared the child’s life expectancy is quite low, but regardless put up their best efforts to make the baby survive. The initial problem they found out was that the baby was sharing a single respiratory system for both its heads, which is by large in adequate. The baby represented severe breathing difficulties, which led the doctors to take a decisive action of splitting the heads surgically, and make the baby survive with just one head. But before the operation could begin, the baby died due to natural causes leaving the parents in deep sorrow.
Polycephaly cases around the world
The two headed baby had all bodily functions working normally, but shared by two control centers which led to its ultimate demise. Doctors believe the condition is due to the incomplete splitting of the monozygotic twins. And such cases have been recorded throughout history, with only a very few surviving to see the daylight. One such example is of the two headed Bengal boy, who supposedly lived in the 1790s and his case has been well documented by the British surgeon Everard Homes. But this person, instead of having two heads side by side, had the extra head mounted on top another, exhibiting one of the weirdest anatomies in human species. The only known healthy case of polycephaly to have been recorded is the case of Abigail and Brittany Hensel. These conjoined twin sisters were born in 1990, with much similar head configuration like the Karachi baby, but miraculously they have survived much longer than what was first expected at first and are healthily living in Minnesota.
(Abigail and Brittany Hensel)