Rare condition causes US baby to be born with second mouth

The baby with two mouths.
The baby with two mouths. Photo credit: BMJ / Medical University of South Carolina.

A rare condition causing a baby to be born in the United States with a second mouth has been detailed in The BMJ, a peer-reviewed weekly medical journal.

The case report published on May 19 was written by doctors at the Medical University of South Carolina and includes prenatal imagery showing a mass on the right of the baby girl's face. 

Upon her birth, it was found to be a second oral cavity, measuring between 1 and 2cm. Doctors found that within the additional mouth were teeth and a small tongue.

The second tongue "was noted to move in synchronisation with the oral tongue when the infant was feeding".

"It was noted that the external component of the mass occasionally developed a raw surface at the skin level that drained clear, serous fluid suspicious for saliva," the report states.

Despite the unusual feature, an examination of the remainder of the head and neck found nothing out of the ordinary. 

"The patient was admitted to the newborn nursery where she exhibited no signs of respiratory distress and demonstrated adequate oral intake prior to discharge."

When she was six months told, the baby was operated on to remove the extra mouth. While after the surgery a body of fluid did build up where the mouth used to be, this resolved over several months and the baby didn't require any further treatment. 

"At six-month follow-up, the incisions were well healed and the patient was feeding without difficulty but had persistence of the inability to depress the right lower lip."

In their case report, the doctors note the condition of diprosopus, the duplication of certain structures, is rare, with only 35 known cases since 1900. It appears to occur more often with females, but experts are unsure why. The condition can range from "complete facial duplication" to the partial duplication of one facial structure.