A baby girl was recently born with two mouths, exhibiting a condition very rarely seen in newborns, doctors say.
In the case report, published May 19 in BMJ Journals, doctors from the Medical University of South Carolina detailed the rare occurrence, which had only surfaced in 35 cases in medical literature since 1900.
In “craniofacial duplication,” parts of the face, or sometimes the entire face, present themselves twice on the same subject.
In this case, doctors saw a mass along the baby’s jaw in an ultrasound during the mother’s third trimester of pregnancy. Initial diagnoses included a congenital cyst and fibrous dysplasia, when scar-like tissue develops in place of the bone. Doctors also thought the mass could be a teratoma, a rare tumor containing fully developed organs or tissues like hair, muscle or teeth.
But when the baby was born, doctors found she had a “duplicated oral cavity” — or, in other words, a second mouth.
The mass contained another lip, six molar teeth and even a small tongue that moved in synchronization with the tongue in her central mouth when she was feeding.
Although the baby was born healthy and didn’t show any signs of respiratory compromise, doctors surgically removed the mass when the child was six months old.
She developed some swelling at the site of incision due to fluid buildup, but another post-op follow-up showed it resolved itself and the baby was feeding well. Doctors did note a minor nerve defect in her bottom lip, however.
While craniofacial duplications are usually diagnosed in utero or soon after birth, the doctors noted one case report from 1978 of an additional mouth found in a 22-year-old patient’s temporal region upon a delayed diagnosis.