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Superfcetation

child and woman

SUPERFCETATION, a second concep tion and the formation of a foetus after a previ ous impregnation in the same female, whereby two foetuses coexist in the uterus. In such a case a woman may be delivered of a full-grown child and of an undeveloped embryo at the same time, the period of conception of each being presumed to be different; or a woman may be delivered of two living children, the one appearing much more developed than the other. In recorded cases women have given birth to twins, the one child being white and the other black, showing that each had a separate father and of a distinct race, and proving the pos sibility of a double conception. But far more typical cases of superfcetation have been found. Such is that instance in which, as published by Eisenman of Strassburg, a woman was de livered of a second child 140 days after the first, both children being fully developed. In

this case, therefore, the second child must have been conceived at a later and different period from the first; and the development of the second child must have been proceeding sepa rately from that of the first, and after the latter was born. Still more remarkable cases of this kind have been recorded. The explanation of these curious cases has afforded a very intri cate study and puzzle to obstetricians and phys iologists, as well as to those concerned with their medico-legal aspect, which sometimes bears directly upon questions of conjugal fidel ity. As the subject at present stands, its full elucidation is still a matter for obstetrical in vestigation; but there can he little doubt either of the actual occurrence of cases of superfceta tion, or of the great importance of the study of its phenomena.