On This Day
1939 – Lina Medina becomes the youngest confirmed mother in medical history at the age of five.
Lina Marcela Medina de Jurado (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈlina meˈðina]; born on 23 September 1933) is a Peruvian woman who became the youngest confirmed mother in medical history, giving birth at the age of five years, seven months, and 21 days. She lives in Lima, the capital of Peru.
Early life and development
Born in Ticrapo, Castrovirreyna Province, Peru, to silversmith Tiburelo Medina and Victoria Losea, she was brought to a hospital by her parents at the age of five years due to increasing abdominal size. She was originally thought to have a tumor, but doctors determined she was in her seventh month of pregnancy. Dr Gerardo Lozada took Medina to Lima to have other specialists confirm that she was pregnant.
Contemporary newspaper accounts indicate that interest in the case developed on many fronts. The San Antonio Light newspaper reported in its 16 July, 1939, edition—in anticipation of the girl’s expected visit to U.S. university scientific facilities—that a national Peruvian obstetrician/midwife association had demanded that the girl be transported to a national maternity hospital; the paper quoted 18 April reports in the Peruvian paper La Crónica stating that a North American film making concern had sent a representative “with authority to offer the sum of $5,000 to benefit the minor [in exchange for filming rights] … we know that the offer was rejected.”
The same article, reprinted from a Chicago paper, noted that Lozada had made films of Medina for scientific documentation and had shown them around 21 April while addressing Peru’s National Academy of Medicine; on a subsequent visit to Lina’s remote hometown, some of the baggage carrying the films had fallen into the river while crossing “a very primitive bridge … Enough of his pictorial record remained, however, to intrigue the learned savants.”
A month and a half after the original diagnosis, Medina gave birth by caesarean section to a boy. She was 5 years, 7 months, and 21 days, the youngest known person in history to give birth. The caesarean birth was necessitated by her small pelvis. The surgery was performed by Lozada and Dr Busalleu, with Dr Colareta providing anaesthesia. When doctors performed the caesarean to deliver her baby, they found she already had fully mature sexual organs from precocious puberty. Her case was reported in detail by Dr. Edmundo Escomel in the medical journal La Presse Médicale, including the additional details that her menarche had occurred at eight months of age, in contrast to a past report stating that she had been having regular periods since she was three years old (or 2½ according to a different article). The report also detailed that she had prominent breast development by the age of four. By age five, her figure displayed pelvic widening and advanced bone maturation.
Medina’s son weighed 2.7 kg (6.0 lb; 0.43 st) at birth and was named Gerardo after her doctor. Gerardo was raised believing that Medina was his sister, but found out at the age of 10 that she was, in fact, his mother.
Identity of the father and later life
Medina has never revealed the father of the child nor the circumstances of her impregnation. Escomel suggested she might not actually know herself by writing that Medina “couldn’t give precise responses”. Although Lina’s father was arrested on suspicion of child sexual abuse, he was later released due to lack of evidence, and the biological father was never identified. Her son grew up healthy. He died in 1979 at the age of 40.
In young adulthood, Medina worked as a secretary in the Lima clinic of Lozada, who gave her an education and helped put her son through high school. Medina later married Raúl Jurado, who fathered her second son in 1972. As of 2002, they lived in a poor district of Lima known as “Chicago Chico”. She refused an interview with Reuters that year, just as she had turned away many reporters in years past.
Although it was speculated that the case was a hoax, a number of doctors over the years have verified it based on biopsies, X rays of the fetal skeleton in utero, and photographs taken by the doctors caring for her.
There are two published photographs documenting the case. The first was taken around the beginning of April 1939, when Medina was seven-and-a-half months into pregnancy. Taken from Medina’s left side, it shows her standing naked in front of a neutral backdrop. This is the only published photograph of Lina taken during her pregnancy. The other photograph is of far greater clarity and was taken a year later in Lima when Gerardo was eleven months old.
In 1955, except for the effects of precocious puberty, there was no explanation of how a five-year-old girl could conceive a child. Extreme precocious pregnancy in children aged five or under has only been documented with Medina.
Born On This Day
1794 – Fanny Imlay, daughter of British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (d. 1816)
Frances “Fanny” Imlay (14 May 1794 – 9 October 1816), also known as Fanny Godwin and Frances Wollstonecraft, was the daughter, born out of wedlock, of the British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the American commercial speculator and diplomat Gilbert Imlay. Wollstonecraft wrote about her frequently in her later works. Fanny grew up in the household of anarchist political philosopher William Godwin, the widower of her mother, with his second wife and their combined family of five children. Fanny’s half-sister Mary grew up to write Frankenstein and married Percy Bysshe Shelley, a leading Romantic poet, who composed a poem on Fanny’s death.
Although Gilbert Imlay and Mary Wollstonecraft lived together happily for brief periods before and after the birth of Fanny, he left Wollstonecraft in France in the midst of the Revolution. In an attempt to revive their relationship, Wollstonecraft travelled to Scandinavia on business for him, taking the one-year-old Fanny with her, but the affair never rekindled. After falling in love with and marrying Godwin, Wollstonecraft died soon after giving birth in 1797, leaving the three-year-old Fanny in the hands of Godwin, along with their newborn daughter Mary.
Four years later, Godwin remarried and his new wife, Mary Jane Clairmont, brought two children of her own into the marriage, most significantly—from Fanny Imlay and Mary Godwin’s perspective—Claire Clairmont. Wollstonecraft’s daughters resented the new Mrs Godwin and the attention she paid to her own daughter. The Godwin household became an increasingly uncomfortable place to live as tensions rose and debts mounted. The teenage Mary and Claire escaped by running off to the Continent with Shelley in 1814. Fanny, left behind, bore the brunt of her stepfather’s anger. She became increasingly isolated from her family and committed suicide in 1816.
Margaret Ruth Kidder (October 17, 1948 – May 13, 2018) professionally known as Margot Kidder, was a Canadian American actress and activist. She rose to fame in 1978 for her role as Lois Lane in the Superman film series, opposite Christopher Reeve. Kidder began her career in the 1960s appearing in low-budget Canadian films and television series, before landing a lead role in Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx (1970).
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