Definition

What is Mermaid syndrome?

Mermaid syndrome, which is also known as sirenomelia, is an extremely rare congenital developmental disorder which causes the lower limbs of the uterus to be fused together.

Affected infants are born with partial or complete fusion of the legs. Additional malformations may also occur including genitourinary abnormalities, gastrointestinal abnormalities, anomalies of the lumbarsacral spine and pelvis and absence or underdevelopment (agenesis) of one or both kidneys.

Affected infants may have one foot, no feet or both feet, which may be rotated externally. The tailbone is usually absent and the sacrum is partially or completely absent as well.

Additional conditions may occur with sirenomelia including imperforate anus, spina bifida, and heart (cardiac) malformations. Sirenomelia is often fatal during the newborn period.  However, some studies claim some live births too.

How common is Mermaid syndrome?

Mermaid syndrome is extremely uncommon. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of Mermaid syndrome?

Symptoms of mermaid syndrome not only affect the limb of new born babies but has many other abnormalities which makes it difficult to survive. While some of the babies are suffering with fused limbs some are also said to suffer from the following symptoms:

  • Absence of genitals
  • Spine abnormality or there are also chances of absence of spine
  • Kidneys are often absent in such individuals
  • Abnormality in opening of lower gastrointestinal tract is another common sign of this syndrome.

Symptoms of the mermaid syndrome might vary with the severity. They can sometimes be seen in some milder forms.

Person with mild form of mermaid syndrome commonly suffers from fused legs at the ankle. They might even suffer with an extent of skin attached between the legs. While in normal cases, bones of individuals are appropriately formed. But in cases when individuals are suffering with mermaid syndrome, they have malformed legs with only two bones inside it. In certain cases, feet are absent and the lower part of leg is also tapering.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you or your loved one has any signs or symptoms listed above or has any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes Mermaid syndrome?

The exact cause of sirenomelia is unknown, most cases occur randomly for no apparent reason (sporadically).

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Mermaid syndrome?

There are many risk factors for Mermaid syndrome, such as:

  • Women suffering from serious illnesses during pregnancy have maximum chances of giving birth to a child affected with mermaid syndrome.
  • Mutation of genes from mother or father can be the cause of genetic disorder in infants.
  • Some studies suggest that environmental factors have also been considered as a cause of mermaid syndrome. Exposure to toxins, radiations can sometimes be the underlying cause of both legs of fetus getting fused together.
  • Physical and mental stress can have devastating effect on the development of fetus in the womb, which can be one of the causes of such congenital problems in new born babies.
  • Certain medicines, medical conditions or certain deficiencies too can be a contributing cause of mermaid syndrome.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Mermaid syndrome diagnosed?

Please consult with your doctor for further information.

How is Mermaid syndrome treated?

Most infants suffering from mermaid syndrome are born still or dead but if in case, they are born alive it is quite difficult for them to survive. However treatment of mermaid syndrome can be tried with the help of certain options.

  • Reconstruction surgery is one of the options for treatment of mermaid syndrome. However, even after treating the patient through surgery, the chances of their survival are quite less.
  • For babies who have fused legs or inseparable blood vessels and other structures, it is quite difficult for performing surgeries on them. It even becomes impossible to treat them. In spite of all the odds, if the new born is treated with surgery the chances of survival are very less. However, if in case surgery is carried out successfully and the baby is fortunate he might survive a disabled life for some years.

Studies have discovered few survivors of mermaid syndrome, however, even with surgery and treatment, the kids have dealt with one or other complexities.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Mermaid syndrome?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Mermaid syndrome:

While the exact cause of mermaid syndrome is not known, taking measures to prevent the disorder is difficult. However, it is important to take all the necessary precautions before a woman conceives and during pregnancy to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Proper antenatal care, diet and prevention of exposure to toxins and radiation must be taken. Timely pre-natal checks are important, which can help in early detection and treatment of congenital malformations.

Moreover, once babies are born it is necessary to keenly observe for any symptoms of mermaid syndrome or any deformity that needs immediate attention. Timely treatment and surgery may help the baby survive.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: February 8, 2018 | Last Modified: February 8, 2018

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