Occasionally you hear about strange births where babies are born with unusual defects or extraordinary circumstances. There is a good chance that you've never heard a story quite as unbelievable as this. In 1939, at just five years and seven months of age, Lina Medina found herself in a hospital in Lima, Peru. What made this so remarkable was that she was undergoing a C-section operation to give birth to her son.
Naturally, her parents were shocked, first thinking the bump was a tumor. Doctors had never seen anything like it, and even today, no girl has matched Lina's record. While a 5-year-old giving birth sounds borderline ridiculous, it is not scientifically impossible. Indeed, the main question on everybody's mind then was that of the father's identity.
Such an incident sounds very disturbing, but the birth is where the abnormality ended. Both Lina Medina and her son Gerardo continued to live relatively normal lives.
As of 2021, Lina Medina is said to still be alive at 88 years old. For the most part, she has lived an ordinary life. Yet, the manner in which her first son was born earned her international fame and attention, most of which was unwanted. Medina's family rejected many interview requests, so much of her life remains a mystery.
This article uses the limited available information to explore one of human biology's most unusual episodes.
Lina Medina's Ordinary Beginnings
Lina Medina was born on September 23rd, 1933, in the village of Ticrapo in Peru, to her father, Tiburelo Medina, and mother, Victoria Losea. There were eight other children in her family. Her father worked as a silversmith, while her mother was a homemaker.
There is little to say about Lina's earliest years because they were most likely very typical. Only when she was around five and a half years old, her parents got concerned.
Lina's stomach had begun to swell, and her parents feared it was a deadly tumor. They took her to a hospital in Pisco, Peru, for an initial diagnosis. No one could have predicted what followed.
A Shocking Discovery
Lina Medina was seven months pregnant. This meant that she had somehow been impregnated before turning five. After this bizarre revelation, Dr. Gerardo Lozada wanted to confirm his assessment with specialist doctors. Lina was transported to Peru's capital, Lima, and doctors there also diagnosed a pregnancy.
Since Lina herself was still a young child, there was no way she could give birth conventionally without suffering a severe injury. Hence, Lozada and his colleagues carried out a caesarian section operation to deliver the baby by cutting open Lina Medina's stomach. The procedure was successful, and Lina gave birth to a healthy boy weighing 2.7 kg (6 lbs). He was named Gerardo after the doctor who first helped Lina.
Everyone Was Suspicious
Police arrested Lina's father as the first obvious suspect in this case. They could not rule out the possibility of incest. Tiburelo was later released due to a lack of evidence that proved his wrongdoing. He certainly denied such claims.
Of course, somebody had to be the father, but who? Another possible explanation is that Lina Medina got pregnant during one of the many traditional festivals in her village. Disturbingly, sexual acts, including rape, were not unheard of at these celebrations. This theory could not be substantiated. The lack of DNA testing in the 1930s made finding the father difficult.
Authorities and doctors questioned Lina herself, though she did not, and still has not, revealed who the father was. Many observers note that she was too young to know for sure anyway.
How Was The Birth Even Possible?
Due to a rare condition that causes the early onset of puberty, Lina Medina could give birth at an outrageously young age. Girls usually begin puberty at around 10, but Lina had her first period at only 3. Doctors noted that she had wider hips, more developed breasts, and more mature bones than other girls of her age.
This early puberty is more common in girls, yet the probability is still very low. Nevertheless, some argue that sexual abuse in Medina's early life could have increased her chances of maturing at such a young age. As mentioned in the previous section, sexual abuse is one explanation for how Lina got pregnant in the first place.
Lina Medina's Family Rejected Media Attention
Even before the age of technology, this story made headlines around the world. Lina's family could easily have used it as a platform to become rich and famous; they could have earned money through countless interviews and public appearances, both in Peru and abroad. That never happened.
Her parents chose to protect her from the public eye and rejected offers to film her. Fame and money aside, this extremely rare birth was a subject of great biological fascination. Numerous medical facilities and academic institutions were no doubt eager to study Lina and Gerardo. Even so, it would have been inappropriate for young children to spend extended periods away from home.
The lack of interviews from Lina Medina or her family led many to believe that the pregnancy never occurred. Doctors have since verified that Lina was the youngest mother ever through x-rays, blood tests, and photographs, though these are rare. Only one known picture exists of Lina while pregnant.
Life Went On As Usual
It was not until Lina was ten that her son recognized that she was his mother. Before then, he believed that she was his older sister. Looking at pictures of the two together, it is not hard to understand why.
The generosity of Dr. Lozada, who first diagnosed Lina, is a heartwarming part of this story. He helped to care for Lina after the birth and made sure that she and her son got a good education. He also ensured that Lina could integrate into society without receiving unwanted attention. Once she had grown up, he employed her at his clinic.
Lina Gave Birth Once More
Lina Medina eventually got married to Raul Jurado and had another child. Thirty-three years passed before she gave birth again in 1972. Tragically, her first son Gerardo died in 1979 at 40 due to a bone disease. There was no link between his early death and his mother's young age because he seemed healthy until that point.
Lina Medina's older son relocated to Mexico. In 2002, Lina was still living in Lima in relative poverty. She had not changed her stance on the media in later life because she turned down an interview with Reuters that year.
It is thought that Lina Medina is still alive at 88, though she and her family are so media-shy that it is difficult to know for sure.