Shaheen Khan and her husband Sohail were anticipating the birth of twins, but they were taken aback when Shaheen gave birth on March 28 in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, India. Instead of fully formed twins, they were blessed with a baby that appeared to have two heads. This unusual condition is known as dicephalic parapagus, where two infants are joined by one torso. Contrary to typical cases resulting in stillbirth, these miracle conjoined twins have defied the odds and survived. They are currently receiving medical care and monitoring at a hospital in nearby Indore.
What is Dicephalic Parapagus? Dicephalic parapagus is an incredibly rare condition, with a prevalence estimated to be around one in 50,000 to 100,000 births, as reported by the American Journal of Medical Genetics. Approximately 11 percent of conjoined twins fall into the dicephalic parapagus category, based on a historical review in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery.
Characteristics of Dicephalic Parapagus Twins: In this unique form of conjoinment, the twins are joined side by side at the pelvis and part or all of the abdomen and chest, while having separate heads. The twins can have two, three (tribrachius), or four (tetrabrachius) arms, as well as two or three legs.
Causes and Separation Possibility: The condition arises when a fertilized egg starts to split into two embryos a few weeks after conception, but the process halts before completion. The feasibility of separation surgery depends on the location of the twins’ attachment. Physicians can determine which organs the siblings share and plan surgery accordingly after their birth. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, at least one twin survives in 75 percent of cases.
Medical Care and Future Prospects: The twins in this case remain under observation, as their condition is still uncertain, especially in the initial days. Doctors have not yet planned any surgery for the patients, preferring to closely monitor their progress.
A Rare Occurrence: Dicephalic parapagus, where twins share one body with two heads, is an exceptionally uncommon form of conjoinment, occurring in about one in a million births. A similar incident was reported in 2019 when a 21-year-old woman in India delivered a baby with two heads and three arms.
Conclusion: The birth of these miracle conjoined twins has brought astonishment and hope, while their rare condition continues to be closely monitored by medical professionals. With expert care and observation, there remains a chance for these extraordinary twins to lead fulfilling lives despite the challenges posed by dicephalic parapagus.