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   Undertoad  Monday Sep 16 12:13 PM

9/16/2002: 5-year-old mom

Sometimes an image of the day says everything by itself, and hardly needs any words of explanation or discussion. And sometimes there are images like the above, which is not interesting at all unless there's explanation AND discussion.

As I thought about this picture, I realized that it covers just about every subject we usually deal with here. What you're seeing is a picture from 1939. The five-year-old shown has given birth to the baby shown, by Caesarean.

The first instinct is skepticism, a common subject for us. How do we know this really happened? The image comes from this Reuters story, which presents it as known truth. Snopes, The Straight Dope Archives turn up nothing. Googling around gets us this imprecise desciption from an unknown source on a suspect web site.

(Which adds: "Doctor Lozada has conducted very detailed studies since the diagnostic of the pregnancy which aroused much curiosity in the country; he took an x-ray of the child and her baby, established a diagnostic of the fetal situation, observed the state of functionality of the little mother who had begun menstruating at the age of 8 months. At four years old she had already developed breasts as well as pubic hair, her body proportions were a bit amazing and her bone hardening a bit advanced, things that are often observed in cases of such premature pregnancy." Yuck.)

Assuming that it was true, the story brings us other questions on topics we often talk about. The government's role; the Reuters story talks about how the woman was pretty much neglected and asks the government to grant her a full lifetime pension. The actual science behind it: is it possible? Could the girl's body accidentally go into adolescent hormone production in infancy? The social science: what problems would a 5-year-old mom have? The international aspects: what was Peru like then? How many bespectacled doctors were available to take an interest?

I'll skip the adolescent ironic humor we sometimes add, figuring that at age five there's no room for it.

LordSludge  Monday Sep 16 01:21 PM

Obvious question: What kinda guy would have sex with a five-, make that four-, year old?? >shudder<

mitheral  Monday Sep 16 02:14 PM

Originally posted by LordSludge
Obvious question: What kinda guy would have sex with a five-, make that four-, year old?? >shudder<
No kidding, that's the first thing that popped into my mind. Just the mechanics of size alone scream don't believe this.

juju  Monday Sep 16 04:19 PM

Trying to find proof of this story has proved extremely frustrating.

Supposedly, this story gets a Reuters article because of a new book about it by Jose Sandoval, titled "Mother Aged 5". But I can't find that book on or

According to, this story was written up in the Dictionary of Medical Science in 1939. I have no idea what this is, but I am in a university library. Perhaps I could find it?


Argh! There are multiple "Medical Dictionaries", and they are all literally huge dictionaries of medical terms. I also found a set of encylopedias on reproduction, too. There proved to be so much information there, though, that I couldn't even begin to know where to look.

The whole "It was written up in the Dictionary of Medical Science" thing sounds like complete crap to me. Why would you write a story in a dictionary? Unless they meant it was a medical journal? But of course, there appears to be multiple "Journals of Medical Science".

The only thing I can say for certain is that Edmundo Escomel, who supposedly witnessed the events, is a real person. His name is all over the internet, mostly in medical websites written in Spanish. There's even a picture of him here (halfway down the page).

verbatim  Monday Sep 16 05:49 PM

Originally posted by mitheral

No kidding, that's the first thing that popped into my mind. Just the mechanics of size alone scream don't believe this.
There's a place for people like that: prison.

MaggieL  Monday Sep 16 08:39 PM

Originally posted by mitheral
No kidding, that's the first thing that popped into my mind. Just the mechanics of size alone scream don't believe this.
Unfortunately, a determined assailant would not find it impossible to rape even so young a girl.

sleemanj  Monday Sep 16 08:59 PM

Re: 9/16/2002: 5-year-old mom

I think this has got to be a leg-pull.

The scientist guy just looks far to much like the cliche' mad scientist, I half expect to see a jackobs ladder and huge dials and stuff behind him. The baby looks like he's too old for it to be anywhere near recent after the birth and the mother only looks about 5 in the picture which would mean that the mother would have had to have been somewhat younger at the time of the birth and somewhat younger than that at the time of conception, the picture looks almost antuiqized, it's all just toooo wierd I think.

Further, a quick hunt on google groups reveals no postings mentioning "Lina Medina" prior to 1998.... the first english mention of her in 1999 in

elSicomoro  Monday Sep 16 09:19 PM

Re: 9/16/2002: 5-year-old mom

Is it scientifically possible? From my understandings as a biology major (for one year), absolutely. On one end, sexual maturity is jump-started by life's an evolutionary kick-in. If this girl was under incredible duress as a child, she may have developed much earlier than most kids. The body wants to make sure it can produce offspring before it dies.

On the other end, there is precocious puberty, which I would imagine was not treatable in 1939.

As to her having relations with someone, take a 4 year old girl and a 6-9 year old boy that might also be sexually get curious. Maggie's links note the more sinister possibilities.

And  Tuesday Sep 17 08:28 AM


This smells of urban legend. Who's to say that pic isn't of some doc and his two children? The whole thing is convenient, too. Family lives in a remote, dangerous area that noone will want to go to. Actual documentation is unfindable. Why is there no proof? It's the old invisible, intangible dragon thing. ("I have a dragon, but he's invisible, won't let you touch him, and makes no noise, so you can see, touch, or hear him. Oh, and he bathes regularly, so you can't smell him, either, but I really do have a dragon.")

MaggieL  Tuesday Sep 17 01:09 PM

Lozada today?

Unknown_Poltroon  Thursday Sep 19 11:48 AM

I first heard about this in an anthro class.

I dont know for sure of the validity of it, but the story was the same as i can remember, and they had a medical looking picture of a pregnant 4 year old, which was very distrubing. I believe its legit, a one in a million chance, but I have no proof besides my memory.

Carigana  Saturday Jun 17 09:48 PM

Snopes has this story now, and says it's true. They include an image of the girl pregnant, which must be the same as what Poltroon saw.

Creepy and weird stuff!

bluecuracao  Saturday Jun 17 10:12 PM

Yuck, I almost wish I didn't read this thread. However, I do find it interesting that at least as of 2004, this woman was still alive! I thought that she might have grown elderly and died at a very early age.

xoxoxoBruce  Saturday Jun 17 10:49 PM

From Snopes

Jose Sandoval, an obstetrician who took an interest in Lina Medina's case and authored a book about her in 2002 said that Lina was a psychologically normal child, that she displayed no other unusual medical symptoms, and that she preferred playing with dolls rather than her own child.

Lina's boy, named Gerardo (after Dr. Gérado Lozada, chief physician of the hospital in Pisco where Lina's pregnancy was diagnosed), did not learn until he was 10 years old that the woman he thought to be his sister was in fact his mother. Gerardo died in 1979, but Lina's second son, born in 1972 (thirty-three years after his brother), now lives in Mexico. Lina and her husband currently reside in the "Little Chicago" district of Lima, Peru.

Spexxvet  Monday Jun 19 03:33 PM

Who is the father??????????????

Kagen4o4  Monday Jun 19 05:29 PM

Happy Monkey  Monday Jun 19 05:36 PM

Just by being on the same planet.

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