Could men carry babies?

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LONDON, Ontario — Like many first-time pregnancies, Lia Tharby’s was an uncomfortable experience–so uncomfortable, in fact, that the pain “felt like razors,” she says.


LONDON, Ontario — Like many first-time pregnancies, Lia Tharby’s was an uncomfortable experience–so
uncomfortable, in fact, that the pain “felt like razors,” she says. Routine ultrasounds
could not identify the source of the pain.

Not until Tharby went into labor did her obstetrician solve the mystery of the
pain. He discovered that she had undergone an extreuterine pregnancy. Her fetus
had developed outside her uterus, the organ in females in which a fetus usually
develops. Only four other extrauterine pregnancies have been documented worldwide.

In a normal pregnancy, a sperm fertilizes an egg in a woman’s fallopian tube.
The fertilized egg, or zygote, then moves through the tube, forming a hollow ball
of cells called a blastocyst. The blastocyst enters the woman’s uterus, where
it develops into an embryo, an organism in the first eight weeks of development,
and then into a fetus.

In Tharby’s case, the blastocyst found its way instead into her abdominal cavity
between her uterus and her liver. When the embryo developed, the placenta became
attached to the outside of the uterus. A placenta is an organ that links the blood
supplies of a mother and her fetus, supplying the fetus with oxygen and nutrients.

Theoretically, a fetus could develop anywhere a placenta can attach itself to
an organ that can sustain the fetus with nourishment. Could a man carry a baby
the way Arnold Schwarzenegger did in the movie Junior? “Biologically speaking,
yes,” Victor Han, chairman of neonatal-perinatal medicine at St. Joseph’s Health
Care, told CTV News. “If the appropriate conditions are created, like hormones,
any living person, either woman or man, could conceive.”

Tharby’s baby, Emylea, was born healthy except for a dislocated hip and two club
feet. Both conditions can be corrected with surgery. “She’s definitely the most
beautiful child that I’ve ever dreamed of having,” says Tharby.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Weekly Reader Corp.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group



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