Lina Medina, seven and a half months into pregnancy
September 27, 1933 |
|Known for||Youngest confirmed mother in medical history|
|Spouse(s)||Raúl Jurado (m. 1970s)|
May 14, 1939 – 1979 (aged 40)
Unknown second son
1972 (age 40–41)
Lina Medina (born September 27, 1933, in Ticrapo, Huancavelica Region, Peru) is the youngest confirmed mother in medical history, giving birth at the age of five years, seven months and 17 days. She presently lives in Lima, the capital of Peru.
Born in Ticrapo, Peru, to silversmith Tiburelo Medina and Victoria Losea, Medina was brought to a hospital by her parents at the age of five years due to increasing abdominal size. She was originally thought to have had a tumor, but her doctors determined she was in her seventh month of pregnancy. Dr. Gerardo Lozada took her to Lima, Peru, to have other specialists confirm that Medina was pregnant.
Contemporary newspaper accounts indicate that interest in the case developed on many fronts. The San Antonio Light newspaper reported in its July 16, 1939, edition—in anticipation of the girl's expected visit to U.S. university scientific facilities—that a national Peruvian obstetrician/midwife association had demanded that the girl be transported to a national maternity hospital; the paper quoted April 18 reports in the Peruvian paper La Crónica stating that a North American filmmaking concern sent a representative "with authority to offer the sum of $5000 to benefit the minor [in exchange for filming rights] ... we know that the offer was rejected." The same article, reprinted from a Chicago paper, noted that Dr. Lozada had made films of Medina for scientific documentation and had shown them around April 21 while addressing Peru's National Academy of Medicine; on a subsequent visit to visit Lina's remote hometown, some of the baggage carrying the films had been dropped into the river while crossing "a very primitive bridge": "Enough of his pictorial record remained, however, to intrigue the learned savants."
A month and a half after the original diagnosis, on May 14, 1939, Medina gave birth to a boy by a caesarean section necessitated by her small pelvis. The surgery was performed by Dr. Lozada and Dr. Busalleu, with Dr. Colareta providing anaesthesia. Her case was reported in detail by Dr. Edmundo Escomel in the medical journal La Presse Médicale, including the additional details that her menarche had occurred at eight months of age, in contrast to a past report stating that she had been having regular periods since she was three years old (or 2½ according to a different article). The report also detailed that she had prominent breast development by the age of four. By age five, her figure displayed pelvic widening and advanced bone maturation. When doctors performed the caesarean to deliver her baby, they found she already had fully mature sexual organs from precocious puberty.
Medina's son weighed 2.7 kg (6.0 lb; 0.43 st) at birth and was named Gerardo after her doctor. Gerardo was raised believing that Medina was his sister, but found out at the age of 10 that she was his mother. He grew up healthy but died in 1979 at the age of 40 of a bone marrow disease.
Medina has never revealed the father of the child nor the circumstances of her impregnation. Dr. Escomel suggested she might not actually know herself by writing that Medina "couldn't give precise responses".
Although Lina's father was arrested on suspicion of child sexual abuse, he was later released due to lack of evidence, and the biological father who impregnated Lina was never identified. Additionally, there was no explanation of how a five-year-old girl could conceive a child.
In young adulthood, she worked as a secretary in the Lima clinic of Dr. Lozada, who gave her an education and helped put her son through high school. Medina later married Raúl Jurado, who fathered her second son in 1972. As of 2002[update], they lived in a poor district of Lima known as "Chicago Chico" ("Little Chicago"). She refused an interview with Reuters that year, just as she had turned away many reporters in years past.
There are two published photographs documenting the case. The first was taken around the beginning of April 1939, when Medina was seven and a half months into pregnancy. Taken from Medina's left side, it shows her standing naked in front of a neutral backdrop. This is the only published photograph of Lina taken during her pregnancy.
This photograph is of significant value because it documents her condition and the extent of her physiological development. The other photograph is of far greater clarity and was taken a year later in Lima when Gerardo was eleven months old.
Although the case was called a hoax by some, a number of doctors over the years have verified it based on biopsies, X rays of the fetal skeleton in utero, and photographs taken by the doctors caring for her. Extreme precocious puberty in children 5 or under is very uncommon; pregnancy and delivery by a child this young remains extremely rare. Extreme precocious puberty is treated to suppress fertility, preserve growth potential, and reduce the social consequences of full sexual development in childhood.
Notes and references
- "Six decades later, world’s youngest mother awaits aid". The Telegraph. 27 August 2002. Archived from the original on 2009-07-16. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
- Elgar Brown (for Chicago Evening American). "American scientists await U.S. visit of youngest mother: Peruvian girl and baby will be exhibited," San Antonio Light, July 11, 1939, page 2A.
- Elgar Brown (for Chicago Evening American). "Wide sympathy aroused by plight of child-mother: opportunity seen to make Lina independent," San Antonio Light, July 16, 1939, page 4.
- "Youngest Mother". Snopes.com. 21 Jul 2004. Retrieved September 30, 2011.
- "Little Mother". Time. 1957-12-16. Archived from the original on 2009-07-16. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
- Luis Leon, Associated Press. "Son of child mother wants to be doctor," Cedar Rapids Gazette, October 30, 1955, page 18.
- La Presse Médicale. "La Plus Jeune Mère du Monde". 47(43): 875, 1939 (31 May 1939).
- Janice Delaney; Mary Jane Lupton; Emily Toth (1988). The Curse: A Cultural History of Menstruation (2nd (revised) ed.). University of Illinois Press. p. 51. ISBN 0252014529.
- Escomel, Edmundo (May 13, 1939). "La Plus Jeune Mère du Monde". La Presse Médicale 47 (38): 744.
- Escomel, Edmundo (May 31, 1939). "La Plus Jeune Mère du Monde". La Presse Médicale 47 (43): 875.
- Escomel, Edmundo (December 19, 1939). "L'ovaire de Lina Medina, la Plus Jeune Mère du Monde". La Presse Médicale 47 (94): 1648.
- "Five-and-Half-Year-old Mother and Baby Reported Doing Well". Los Angeles Times: 2. May 16, 1939.
- "Physician Upholds Birth Possibility". Los Angeles Times: 2. May 16, 1939.
- "U.S. Health Official Returns from Peru". The New York Times: 9. November 15, 1939.
- "Mother, 5, to Visit Here". The New York Times: 21. August 8, 1940.
- "Wife of Peruvian Envoy Arrives to Join Him Here". The New York Times: 8. July 29, 1941.
- "The Mother Peru Forgot". Hamilton Spectator (Spectator Wire Services): B4. August 23, 2002.