The 92-year-old woman has had a huge belly for 60 years

It may sound like a weird plot twist from the film “Benjamin Button,” but a 92-year-old lady actually gave birth to a 60-year-old baby. Southern Chinese woman Huang Yijun, 92, recently gave birth to a child after carrying it for well over 50 years.

But the infant wasn’t breathing. Known as a stone baby, the woman was carrying a lithopedion. When a pregnancy fails and the fetus calcifies while inside the mother’s body, it is a rare phenomenon.

Endocrinologist and fertility specialist Dr. Natalie Burger of Texas Fertility Center claims that lithopedions initially begin as ectopic pregnancies, which occur when the fertilized egg becomes blocked on its journey to the womb, implants, and develops outside the uterus.

In a small proportion of cases, the pregnancy might really take place in the abdominal cavity — in locations like the colon, the ovary, or even on the aorta, according to the expert.

“Typically, an ectopic pregnancy will mean a [fallopian] tubal pregnancy,” she explains. These are extremely uncommon places, and they can be exceedingly hazardous.

According to Burger, doctors will typically advise aborting the pregnancy due to the high risk to the mother. Or the unborn child will naturally expire from a blood supply shortage.

The majority, she claims, “never even get close to many months of pregnancy.” “They pass away, the tissue degrades, and they are no more.”

However, occasionally the implanted fetus develops to a mature level before it passes away.

The child’s remnants or the amniotic sac that surrounds them are too enormous to be absorbed by the body, so they slowly calcify and turn to stone to shield the woman’s body from infection caused by the rotting tissue.

If there are no additional issues, the mother can essentially carry on with her life because her body doesn’t perceive the hardening mass as foreign.

In spite of their frequent use as a plot device in books, short tales, and television episodes, stone infants are actually very uncommon.

They have recently appeared on shows like “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Nip/Tuck,” and the Australian drama “All Saints,” for instance.

Maybe the reason why calcified babies are so well-liked is because they appeal to a deep mythological fear or fascination with a delicate, innocent body turning to stone.

Only 290 cases of lithopedion have ever been reported in medical literature, according to a 1996 article in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

The earliest case was that of Madame Colombe Chatri, a 68-year-old Frenchwoman who died in 1582 and was discovered to be carrying a fully-developed stone baby in her abdominal cavity.

Chatri had been carrying her stone child for 28 years, according to reports, and her abdomen had been “swollen, hard, and painful throughout her existence.”

According to a Journal report, a “stone pregnancy” lasts an average of 22 years. Some women have borne their calcified fetuses for more than 50 years, like Huang Yijun of China.

How could a lady carry a stone baby around for years on end without realizing something was wrong?

Burger claims that early pregnancy symptoms can appear before disappearing. The women would simply assume that they had just miscarried and stop worrying about it.

In other situations, a lack of funding or access to healthcare is a factor. After learning that her fetus had died inside of her in 1948, Huang Yijun informed reporters that she lacked the funds to get it removed. She “did nothing and ignored it” as a result.

Other women, especially those who reside in places where obstetric care is less accessible, are unaware of their disease until the calcified mass results in a significant medical problem.

Lithopedions, which can weigh up to nine pounds in the case of a fully developed fetus, have been known to cause a variety of conditions, including intestinal blockage, pelvic abscess, complications with delivery in subsequent pregnancies, and fertility problems, according to Burger.

They have also been known to create a significant public stir.

The calcified fetus was quickly sold to a wealthy French merchant (sort of the P.T. Barnum of his day) who put it on display at his museum of curiosities in Paris after the autopsy findings of Madame Chatri, complete with illustrations showing the woman and her stone child, became an instant medical bestseller in 1582.

After that, the petrified fetus apparently went through a number of ownership changes before, in 1653, it was placed in the royal museum of the King of Denmark. After the museum was shut down 200 years later, the stone fetus was sent to the Danish Museum of Natural History.

The stone infant vanished several years later. Or perhaps finally set to rest.


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