advertisement

Genetics

Updated 02 June 2020

Rare condition causes baby to be born with two mouths

Several processes are involved when a baby develops in the womb, but sometimes, everything doesn't go as planned.

  • A rare condition caused a baby to be born with what appears to be two mouths.
  • She luckily experienced no breathing or eating difficulties.
  • The disease is a congenital malformation and can be fatal.


As a new life is growing inside the womb, scans, tests and other medical technology try to ensure that all goes smoothly.

But, sometimes prenatal ultrasonography isn’t enough to avoid anomalies. In a rare medical case, documented in BMJ Case Reports, a baby was born with two oral cavities, after a scan during the third trimester showed a mass near her jawbone.

After her birth, an MRI and CT of the jaw area showed that this “second mouth” even contained a set of unerupted teeth, a lip and a tongue that moved in conjunction with her primary tongue whenever she was fed.

According to the doctors from the Medical University of South Carolina, who wrote the case report, the skin around the second mouth would develop a raw surface and often secreted a clear fluid that could have been saliva, but caused no problems with breathing or feeding. She was perfectly capable of using her primary mouth, which was not connected to this second oral cavity.

The condition that caused this

BMJ reported the newborn girl’s condition as diprosopus, or the duplication of facial structures. This condition is an extremely rare congenital malformation and only 35 cases have been reported in medical literature since 1900.

When this condition occurs, it often affects the upper and lower jaws or oral cavity. The brain can also be affected, when the pituitary gland is duplicated. Very little is known about the prevalence of the condition, but it occurs more in females.

This condition can also be present in conjoined twins.

The condition may cause other craniofacial structural problems such as cleft lip or palate, Klippel-Feil syndrome and Pierre Robin Sequence, according to the case report.

How was the girl treated?

When the baby was six months old, the duplicated mouth area and soft tissue in the surrounding area were removed surgically while trying to preserve the surrounding facial nerves.

The baby had some swelling at the surgical site, and had some trouble relaxing the right part of her lower lip, which doctors suspected was due to missing nerves, but otherwise, she healed well, without requiring further treatment.

"Our patient's craniofacial duplication is a rare case that presented as an isolated anomaly, with no associated syndromes or abnormalities,” the doctors treating her wrote in their case report.

Image credit: