In 1939, Lina Medina of Peru became the youngest mother in history when she gave birth to a healthy baby boy at just the age of five years, seven months, and 21 days. Based on the medical assessments of her pregnancy, she was less than five years old when she became pregnant, which was possible due to precocious puberty.
What is precocious puberty?
A precocious puberty is a rare genetic condition which causes a child’s body to change into that of an adult too soon (before age eight for girls and before age nine for boys).
Boys with this condition will often experience a deepening voice, enlarged genitals, and facial hair. Girls with this condition will typically have their first period and develop breasts early on. It affects about one in every 10,000 children. Roughly 10 times more girls than boys develop this way.
Oftentimes, the cause of precocious puberty can’t be identified. However, recent studies have found that young girls who were sexually abused may go through puberty faster than their peers. So there are suspicions that precocious puberty might be accelerated by sexual contact at an early age.
In the case of Lina Medina, Dr. Edmundo Escomel reported to a medical journal that she had her first period when she was only eight months old. However, other publications claimed that she was three years old when she began menstruating. Either way, it was a shocking early start.
Further examination was done to Medina and it was found out that she had already developed breasts, wider-than-normal hips, and advanced (that is, post-pubescent) bone growth.
How It Was Discovered That Lina Medina Was Pregnant?
In the early spring of 1939, parents in a remote Peruvian village noticed that their 5-year old daughter had an enlarged belly. Fearful that the swelling was due to a tumor, Tiburelo Medina and Victoria Losea took their girl from the family’s home in Ticrapo to see a doctor in Lima.
To the parent’s shock, the doctor discovered that their daughter, Lina Medina, was seven months pregnant. Dr. Gerardo Lozada had specialists in Lima confirm the pregnancy. Six weeks after the diagnosis Medina gave birth via C-section to a healthy baby boy on May 14, 1939. At 5 years, seven months, and 21 days of age, she became the youngest mother in the world. The surgery was performed by Lozada and Dr. Busalleu, with Dr. Colareta provides anesthesia. The doctors found she had fully mature sexual organs from precocious puberty.
Medina’s son weighed 2.7 kg (6.0 lb; 0.43 st) at birth.
Medina’s case took pediatricians by surprise and attracted international attention that she and her family never wanted.
Lina Medina seems to have gotten good medical care, especially for the time and place in which she lives, and she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
Delivery was by Cesarean section because, despite Medina’s prematurely widened hips, she probably would’ve had a difficult time passing a full-size child through the birth canal.
The child was named Gerado , after the doctor who first examined Medina, and the infant went home to the family’s village of Ticrapo after he was released from the hospital.
Who Was The Father Of Lina Medina’s Baby?
To this day, Medina has never told authorities who the father was or the circumstances of the assault that led to her pregnancy, and she and her family still shun publicity and avoid any opportunity for a tell-all interview. But due to her young age, she might not have even known herself.
Despite the mystery that continues to surround the case of the world’s youngest mother, more insight has come to light on how Lina Medina got pregnant-and who the father may have been.
Tiburelo, Medina’s father who worked as a local silversmith, was briefly arrested for the suspected rape of his child. However, he was released and the charges against him were dropped when no evidence or witness statements could be found to hold him responsible. For his part, Tiburelo strenuously denied ever raping his daughter.
The Life of Lina Medina After Giving Birth
Two years after giving birth, a specialist in child education at Columbia University named Paul Koask got permission to visit the Medina Family. Koask found that the world’s youngest mother was “above normal intelligence” and that her baby was “perfectly normal”.
“She thinks of the child as a baby brother and so does the rest of the family.” Koask reported.
An obstetrician named Jose Sandoval, who wrote a book about the Medina case, said that Medina often preferred to play with her dolls rather than her child. As Gerardo himself, he grew up thinking that Medina was his older sister. He found out the truth when he was about 10.
While Gerardo was healthy for most of his life, he sadly ended up dying relatively young at age 40 in 1979. The cause of his death was bone disease.
As for Lina Medina, it is unclear if she’s still alive today or not. After her shocking pregnancy. She went on to live a quiet life in Peru.
In her young adulthood, she found work as a secretary for the doctor who attended the birth, which paid her way through school. At roughly the same time, Medina managed to put Gerardo through school as well.
She later married a man named Raul Jurado in the early 1970s and gave birth to her second son when she was in her 30s. As of 2002, Medina and Jurado were still married and living in a poor neighborhood in Lima.
If she’s still alive today, she would be in her late 80s.
Silence From The World’s Youngest Mother
Once Lina Medina’s pregnancy became generally known, it garnered attention from all over the world.
Newspapers in Peru unsuccessfully offered the Medina family thousands of dollars for the rights to interview and to film Lina. Meanwhile, newspapers in the United States had a field day reporting on the story- and they also attempted to interview the youngest mother in the world.
Offers were even made to pay the family to come to the United States. But Medina and her family declined to speak publicly.
In the over 80 years that have passed, this seems unlikely to be the case. Neither Medina nor her family have tried to capitalize on the story, and medical records from the time provide ample documentation of her condition during her pregnancy.