There is much concern in the Eastern Cape of South Africa as to why so many babies have been born with deformities in the province.
The Eastern Cape Health Department is calling for more research into the shocking number of deformed babies, with 50 deformities reported in the last two years.
Eastern Cape spokesman, Sizwe Kupelo said, “We are counting 50 deformities within a period of two years. We don’t have a documented cause.”
In the most recent example of deformed infants, a baby girl was born at the Dr Malizo Mphehle district hospital in Tsolo, near Mthatha last Saturday.
Kupelo says, “She was born with a small penis on the forehead and one eye on the forehead. She was born with no nose and where there are supposed to be eyes there was nothing – skin covered the area.”
The baby was born to a 16-year-old and was taken to the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital, but passed away on Sunday.
Kupelo also said that in the past 18 months, there have been five sets of conjoined twins born in the Transkei. Earlier this month, a further pair of conjoined twins were born and were also taken to the Dr Malizo Mphehle district hospital.
Kupelo says that most of the deformed babies were from the Transkei, which is an independent territory bordering on the Eastern Cape.
As well as the conjoined twins, deformities include babies born with their brain or heart exposed, having four legs or two penises. A Port Elizabeth baby boy, born in November last year with his heart exposed on his chest, died after an emergency operation. Kupelo says that most of the deformed infants either die soon after birth, or during operations to try and rectify the deformities.
He says that doctors in the area were “in the dark” about the causes of so many deformities and that “this calls for a need for specialists to conduct a study in the area to determine the cause.”
The Eastern Cape Health Department is apparently having discussions about the urgent need for research by paediatric specialists to try and establish the cause.