The World’s Youngest Mother – Only Five years OLD

The World’s Youngest Mother - Only Five years OLD
Medicine

In 1939, a healthy young girl gave birth to an equally healthy baby boy. The only noteworthy detail about this event was the mother’s age: She was five years old.

In the early spring of 1939, a worried family from a remote village in Peru took their five-year-old daughter to a doctor in faraway Lima. The girl’s belly had been growing for several months, and her mother was afraid she might have a tumor.

To their shock and dismay, the doctor diagnosed their daughter, Lina Medina, as being seven months pregnant. Six weeks later, Medina became, at the age of five years and seven months, the youngest girl known to have given birth.

Her case took pediatricians of the time by surprise, and the matter has been the subject of speculation ever since. Medina never revealed who the father was, and to this day she and her family shun publicity from the outside world.

The real story of Lina Medina, the world’s youngest confirmed mother, and of the circumstances surrounding her extraordinary tale give insight into both the society she grew up in and the vagaries of human biology.

A Case of Precocious Puberty

Lina Medina’s condition certainly came as a surprise to everybody who studied the case, but among pediatric endocrinologists, it wasn’t entirely unthinkable.

The World’s Youngest Mother - Only Five years OLD

About one in every 10,000 children develop a condition known as “precocious puberty,” in which the child’s body reaches sexual maturity before age eight. Roughly ten times more girls than boys develop this way, and there is reason to suspect that it might be accelerated by sexual contact at an early age.

Examination of the five-year-old Medina showed that she already had developed breasts, wider-than-normal hips, and advanced (that is, post-pubescent) bone growth. To all appearances, at the time that Lina Medina got pregnant – right around her fifth birthday – her body was that of a very petite, immature woman.

Pregnant at Five

Precocious puberty is a good proximate explanation for Lina Medina’s pregnancy, but obviously it doesn’t explain everything.

Getting a period at three is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for getting pregnant at five. Somebody, in other words, had to get her pregnant, and given the 100,000-to-1 odds against it, that person probably wasn’t a precociously pubescent five-year-old boy.

Medina herself never told her doctors or the authorities who the father was, though her own father, a silversmith named Tiburelo, was briefly arrested for suspected child rape. He was eventually released and the charges against him dropped, however, when he strenuously denied having had sex with his own daughter and no evidence or witness statements could be found to hold him.

Lina Medina’s Later Life

Medina seems to have gotten good medical care, especially for the time and place in which she lived, and gave birth to a healthy six-pound baby boy, who appeared to have made it to a full term, on May 14, 1939.

Delivery was by caesarean section because, despite Medina’s prematurely widened hips, her slim frame was still not adequate in terms of passing a full-sized child through the birth canal.

The child was named Gerardo, after the doctor who first examined Medina, and the infant went home to the family’ village of Ticrapo when he was released from the hospital.

Gerardo grew up thinking that Medina was his older sister, and only found out the truth when he was a teenager.

Interviewed for the 1955 profile on his and his mother’s life, Gerardo claimed that he wanted to be a doctor when he grew up. Despite having no known defects or other health issues, Gerardo died relatively young, at age 40, in 1979, of natural causes.

Aside from her record-breaking status as a mother, Medina went on to live an ordinary life in Peru.

In her young adulthood, she found work as a secretary for the doctor who attended the birth, which paid her way through school. At roughly the same time, Medina managed to put Gerardo through school as well.

She married a man named Raul sometime in the early 1970s, and gave birth to her second child in 1972, aged 39. Medina and Raul were not wealthy people, and as of the last that the outside world heard from either of them, in 2002, the couple was still married and living in a poor neighborhood in Lima known as Chicago Chico.

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