Saturday, June 03, 2006

Three armed baby born

A baby was born in China with an unusually well-developed third arm. In fact, doctors have difficulty deciding which of the two left arms is the best-developed. Incidentally, the baby was born on the 1st of April, but this is no joke.

"His Shanghai surgeons now must decide which arm to remove, and at this point, they aren't sure which arm will be the one to go."

"Neither of the boy's two left arms is fully functional and tests have so far been unable to determine which was more developed, said Dr. Chen Bochang, head of the orthopedics department at Shanghai Children's Medical Center.

UPDATE: The arm closest to the chest was found to be less developed and has successfully been removed.

"His case is quite peculiar. We have no record of any child with such a complete third arm," Chen said in a telephone interview.

The boy, identified only as "Jie-jie," also was born with just one kidney and may have problems that could lead to curvature of the spine, local media reports said. Jie-jie cried when either of his left arms was touched, but smiled and responded normally to other stimuli, the reports said.

Chen said doctors hoped to work out a plan for surgery, but the boy's small size made it impossible to perform certain tests that would help them prepare.

Media reports said other children have been reported born with additional arms and legs, but in those cases it was clear what limb was more developed. Chen's hospital is one of China's most experienced in dealing with unusual birth defects, including separating conjoined twins."

"While an extra limb is rare, children with multiple digits and even hands are more common, said Dr. Ann Van Heest, an upper extremity surgeon at Gillete Childrens Speciality Healthcare in Minnessota. She has never seen a case like the baby in China. Van Heest estimated that one out of 200,000 babies are born with two thumbs on one hand and one out of 2 million have doubling at the wrist, resulting in two hands."

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