Today in History - May 14
Ticrapo, Huancavelica Region, Peru, 1939
On May 14, 1939, a girl named Lina Medina became the youngest recorded mother in history, at 5 years, 7 months, and 17 days of age.
Originally thought to have a massive abdominal tumor that was growing at an alarming rate, Lina’s parents took her to the nearest hospital, where she was diagnosed as being seven months pregnant. The doctor who diagnosed her, Dr. Gerardo Lozada, took her to Lima, Peru, to a larger hospital, in order to have his diagnosis confirmed and to have Lina’s condition monitored.
One-and-a-half months later, a caesarean-section was performed on the small girl, and her son Gerardo Medina was born. He was named after the doctor who delivered him, and who mentored and provided medical care to both Lina and the boy, after the birth and through their young adulthood. Until he was 10-years-old, Gerardo was raised to believe that his mom was really his sister, but after incessant teasing at school one year, the doctor and Lina told him the truth. By most accounts, he was a normal child, and fairly bright. He died at age 40, of an unrelated bone cancer.
How did this happen?
Well, precocious puberty isn’t all that uncommon, but extreme precocious puberty is. Some children with extreme precocious puberty reach menarche (first menstruation) at nine months or younger, and if this condition is allowed to continue, the body develops to the point where a full-term pregnancy is completely possible. Today, hormone-suppressing drugs are available, and many of the complications of precocious puberty (both psychological and physical) are avoided, but the early versions of these medications were both dangerous and not terribly effective.
Lina had begun menstruating at eight-months-old, and began developing breast tissue at four-years-old. Though her hips had begun widening significantly beyond where they should be for a child her age, they were obviously nowhere near large enough to deliver a baby at just five-years-old.
Of course, this still leads to the question of who would impregnate a five-year-old. Her father was initially arrested on suspicion of incest and rape, but the charges were dropped due to a lack of evidence. Other possibilities included her mentally-deficient older brother, an uncle, or one of the village men, during an Andean fertility festival. Lina herself never gave a clear answer to who impregnated her, and it’s completely possible that she herself doesn’t know.
Lina Medina had a second son in 1972, almost 33 years after her first. She is still alive today, in a poor section of Lima, Peru, and lives with her husband Raul Jurado. Despite living in relative poverty, she refuses media and publicity as much as possible, and prefers her privacy over fiscal gain.
Read More about Lina Medina:
LINA MEDINA, MADRE A LOS CINCO AÑOS
Youngest Mother @ DamnInteresting
Youngest Mother? by Snopes
Time Magazine: Little Mother [similar case]
All images from listed sources.