Why are some children born with multiple limbs?

Published on: 13 June 2022, 23:44 pm IST
Chaumukhi Kumari’s extra limbs were attached to her stomach in a rare condition where her other conjoined twin wasn’t fully developed.
Gurpreet Kaur
Chaumakhi is a toddler who has undergone surgery for her mutliple limbs. Image courtesy: Instagram | Sonu Sood
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A baby girl, who was born with with multiple limbs– precisely four legs and four hands– recently became the centre of attention after Bollywood actor Sonu Sood helped her family to get her duly operated. Chaumukhi Kumari, who was reportedly given the moniker of ‘Spider Girl’, is now doing fine.

While everyone in the country has been praising Sood for extending help the little girl’s family, most of us don’t really know about the condition where a child is born with multiple limbs.

What is the cause of multiple limbs in a child?

While we all have seen or heard cases of conjoined twins – where two babies are born physically connected to each other, the case of Chaumukhi is certainly rare.

Health Shots spoke to Dr Anamika Dubey, senior consultant, Madhukar Rainbow hospital and she said that while conjoined twins are rare identical pairs that are not wholly separated from one another, there are several types of conjoined twins based on the shared organs.

“Baby Chaumukhi in Bihar born with extra limbs is due to a developmental defect when there are two babies in the womb but one of the twins doesn’t grow normally and does not develop fully. This condition is known as parasitic twinning, wherein the other twin’s head and heart never develop but some parts of the body, like the limbs, do. The parasitic twin relies on the other twin’s blood and nutrients to keep the limbs alive,” Dr Dubey revealed.

In such twins, other abnormalities can also be seen, like other organs can be on different sides. Sometimes, the heart can be on the right side or the liver can be on the left side. “Scientists believe that this happens when a fertilized egg splits later than usual,” Dr Dubey added.

Is there a way to detect it during early ultrasounds?

Expecting twin babies is absolutely delightful news for the would-be parents. However, twins go on to develop very differently in the womb. In some rare cases, they turn out to be parasitic twins. However, with advanced science, ultrasound can diagnose the condition as early as the first trimester.

Keep a check on any abnormalities during pregnancy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

According to Dr Dubey, “Three-dimensional ultrasound and MRI can be used to complement the two-dimensional ultrasound imagery in order to confirm the diagnosis and establish the extent of organs shared.”

What is the quality of life for parasitic twins?

Last but not the least, such children do have a compromised growth and their health can only be managed in a tertiary care with multiple disciplinary teams involved including neonatologist, paediatric anesthesiologist, paediatric surgeon, and a paediatric orthopaedic.

Gurpreet Kaur

A lifestyle journalist with a perennial hunger for all nice things in life - from fashion to food and different cultures. When she is not writing in her favourite coffee spot, she spends her time socializing with people or exploring different cities.

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