Zahra Aboutalib and her stone baby (The 46 year pregnancy)

March 29, 2014 | 0

Zahra Aboutalib lived with a pregnancy for 46 years, in what is known as Lithopedion referring to stone baby. This is a rare phenomenon that occurs when fetus dies as a result of abdominal pregnancy and becomes too large to be reabsorbed by the body, often calcifying and forming a hard lump. The fetus calcifies on outside and shields the body of the mother from the dead tissue and prevents infection.

In 1955, in a village in Casablanca, Morocco, the then 26 year old Zahra Aboutalib was pregnant with her first baby. When Zahra was looking forward to having a baby, she was rushed to a local hospital following 48 hours of painful labour. But doctors told her that she would require a caesarean section. However, when she saw a woman die of a terrible pain when undergoing that kind of operation, Zahra fled the hospital in fear that she would fall the same fate.

Sponsored link

After fleeing the hospital and going back to the village, Zahra continued to experience the excruciating labour pains but a few days later, the pains ceased and the baby stopped kicking. Surprisingly, in Moroccan culture, it was believed that a baby can remain inside the mother’s womb after the conceiving period to protect her honor.

Zahra believed about this myth and then forgot her pregnancy. She later adopted three children and the baby remained in her body. When Zahra attained 75 years, the pains occurred again and her son was concerned that her mom needed to see a doctor. They travelled to Rabat and met Professor Taibi Ouazzani, who investigated her and suspected that the protruding belly could probably be an ovarian tumor.

An ultrasound scan was arranged which revealed that there was a large mass, which the doctor could not identify. A second opinion by Professor Taibi Ouazzani was sought to seek help from a specialist radiographer. The radiographer could see that it was a calcified lump. However, it tool a detailed MRI scan and analysis to reveal that it was actually a baby which the mother had conceived 46 years earlier.

When Zahra was pregnant, she had an ectopic pregnancy where the egg implanted in fallopian tube. But the fetus developed and burst out of the tube and continued developing in the abdominal cavity. The fetus survived by attaching itself to the vital organs which are around the stomach. Professor Ouazzani had a difficult time in deciding whether he could remove the fetus safely.

The fetus weighed 7lb and had a length of 42 cm. After the operation, it was discovered that the fetus had calcified and formed a hard lump hence a stone baby. In an operation that took four hours, it was successful and the calcified fetus was surgically removed. What is amazing is how Zahra survived with such a situation considering that dead fetus are most unlikely to be accepted by the body when they remain inside. The dead fetus in this case was accepted by body like any other organ and remained there for almost half a century.

Sponsored link

According to information from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, it is only 290 cases of stone babies that have been documented. They are rare occurrences and mothers who experience such conditions may not survive. With ectopic pregnancy, in case the dead fetus is large to be re-absorbed by the body, it can become a foreign body to the immune system. In order to protect itself from possible infection, the body encases the fetus in calciferous substance as the tissue dies and dehydrates. As more calcification occurs, the fetus mummifies and becomes lithopedion or what is referred to as a stone baby.

Zahra Aboutalib and her stone baby pictures

Zahra Aboutalib

She is Zahra Aboutalib


Zahra Aboutalib stone baby 46 year pregnancy stone baby
stone baby lithopedion
Zahra Aboutalib baby 46 year pregnancy Zahra Aboutalib baby

Sponsored link

About the Author (Author Profile)