Babies born with teeth is a rare but known phenomenon, but a baby in Maryland stunned his parents and doctors when they found teeth inside the four-month-old’s brain! Believed to be the first person to have the rare tumor, doctors believe the incident can shed new light on the kind of tumors that can occur inside the brain.
Doctors first suspected something wrong with the newborn, when they found his head to be growing faster than other children his age. When a brain scan was carried out, the tumor they noticed inside looked unbelievably similar to the teeth of the lower jaw.
When the surgery was performed, surgeons found several fully formed teeth inside the brain! The tumor tissues on further analysis were found to be that of a rare kind of condition called craniopharyngioma. Such tumors can grow larger than a golf ball but do not spread.
Dr. Narlin Beaty, a neurosurgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center, who performed the boy’s surgery along with his colleague, Dr. Edward Ahn, of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center said that doctors had always suspected that these kind of tumors were formed from the same cells that formed teeth, but there was no definite proof.
“It’s not every day you see teeth in any type of tumor in the brain. In a craniopharyngioma, it’s unheard of,” Beaty said.
Craniopharyngiomas commonly contain calcium deposits, “but when we pulled out a full tooth…I think that’s something slightly different,” Beaty told Live Science.
The doctor also added that there have been previous cases where teeth were found in people’s brains but the tumor type is those cases were different, known as tetranoma where all type of tissues found in early stage human embryo are found. In this present case, the tumor had only one type of tissue.
According to the National Cancer Institute such tumors are more commonly diagnosed in kids between 5 and 12 years of age and rarely those under two.
The baby boy is recovering well after the surgery but the doctors say that because the tumor is of the Pituitary gland – a gland that forms many important hormones in the body, it may lead to some hormonal problems.
In the infant’s case as the tumor destroyed the normal functioning of the gland, he might need hormonal treatments all his life.
“He’s doing extremely well, all things considered,” Beaty said. “This was a big tumor right in the center of his brain. Before the modern surgical era this child would not have survived,” He added.
The report is published in the Feb. 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The doctor said that the teeth have been sent to the pathologist and as it is a very rare case, the teeth might be saved for a number of years for further study and investigation.