A TWO-headed baby girl was born at the New Amsterdam Hospital on Saturday, creating history in the Ancient County.
The 36-week-old foetus, the first-born for the teenage mother, was delivered via caesarian section by a team of doctors at the Berbice health institution.
It was later confirmed that the child died shortly after delivery.
Asked for a comment, Dr. Narine Datt Sooknanand, who is an Obstetrician, as well as a Gynaecologist by profession, said that in his 47 years of practice, it was the very first instance that he has seen what in medical parlance is called a “dicephalus anencephalic feotus with spina bifida”.
Simply put, what the term means, the former Medical Superintendent of the New Amsterdam Hospital said, is that the baby was born with two heads, an undeveloped brain, skull and scalp, along with an incomplete closing of the backbone.
“There are instances of anencephaly [the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp [which] occurs during embryonic development]; there may be one or so a year, but never have I witnessed two connecting heads with this condition,” said Dr Sooknanand from his Coburg Street, New Amsterdam clinic.
He further opined that the cause for anencephaly is primarily due to a deficiency of folic acid, a supplement which should be used by women before and during pregnancy.
Folic acid or folate can also be found in dark leafy vegetables, as well as in asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits, and peas and beans.
“The lack of folic acid causes malformation of the brain and spinal cord,” he explained, adding that it is important for pregnant and lactating women to take at least 400 micrograms of the supplement per day.
“The lack of it will hinder the embryotic development within a month of conception,” he stressed.
Further, the babies do not live long after delivery, and are normally born blind, deaf and unaware of their surroundings due to the underdeveloped brain.
Dr. Sooknanand noted that it is usual during the early stages of pregnancy that an alpha fetoprotein (AFP) blood test is done to check its level in a pregnant woman’s blood. AFP is a substance made in the liver of an unborn baby. The amount of AFP in the blood of a pregnant woman could determine whether the baby may have such problems as spina bifida and anencephaly.
He, however, said that while it’s unfortunate that such a test is not done at public clinics here, an ultra sound would have done the trick, as its the cornerstone of an early diagnosis.