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Calcification of the Fetus

 

Calcification of the fetus occurs in one of two ways when the fetus dies during an ectopic pregnancy.  The first  being through an ectopic pregnancy where a fertilized egg is expelled outside of the uterus. The second way that calcification can occur is when intense labor pains in the latter stage of pregnancy, tear through the uterine wall and the fetus is expelled into the abdominal cavity (Bondeson, 2000). The dead fetus is too large for the mother to absorb back into her body. The fetus then begins to calcify on the outside in order to protect the host, the mother, from any dangerous dead tissue or infection. This process of calcification can occur from week ten during fetal development to a full term fetus. Even though a full term lithopedion baby is extremely rare and very difficult to maintain in the abdominal cavity, there has been a documented case of a woman carrying a full term fetus for almost fifteen years. The process of calcification consists of the deposition of lime salts in the fetal tissue being released and then calcified on the outside (Edward, 1916). The fetus has now turned into what we call a “stone child.” After calcification has taken place the fetus poses no immediate threat to the mother. There are several cases that have been recorded that these “stone children” can go undiagnosed in a woman for years or even decades. In some cases, females have died with a lithopedion in their abdominal cavity, found only after autopsy. There is no current treatment at this time for the calcification of a fetus and many unknowns still exist on the process of calcification of a fetus (Bonucci, 2007).

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