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10 Most Bizarre Birth Defects

Updated on September 6, 2011

Birth Defects are Human Anomalies

Birth Defects are human anomalies that have been around as long as human life. Originally thought to be a tool used by natural selection to weed out the best, birth defects have quickly been discovered to be related to chromosomal or genetic complications or abnormalities of some kind. There are plenty of common defects that occur all the time, as well as some really bizarre and uncommon defects that can be quite disturbing to some people. Here are the 10 most bizarre, rare birth defects that are known in the world today, in no specific order:

1. Siamese Twins

Siamese twins, also known as conjoined twins, are fairly common in the realm of birth defects. These are twins that are joined at some part of their body when they are born, and the exact location can vary. In rare cases, twins are joined at the head but they can also be joined throughout the body. There are some opportunities for separation, but this is rarely an option.

2. Leg Anomalies

While most parents assume their children will be born with two normal legs, this isn't always what happens. There are plenty of cases of people being born with any combination of one to four legs, in various stages of development. Usually, this is attributed to having incorporated most or all of a twin into their body.

3. Ectrodactyly (Lobster Claw Syndrome)

This birth defect involves the hands or legs being fused and malformed. When it occurs in the hands, it appears like lobster claws, which is where the nickname comes from. In some cases, functionality isn't an issue but there are other cases where people need the use of a wheelchair or special equipment to live a full life.

4. Ambras Syndrome

When someone is born with excessive face and body hair, this is the cause. This syndrome is very rare, with only about 40 people in the world actually having the condition at present. Socially, this is a very debilitating condition simply because it causes social rejection, especially in children.

5. Cyclopia

The cause of this condition is unknown, but thought to be linked to cancer treatment drugs taken by pregnant women. Regardless, when a child is born with a single eye in the middle of their forehead, this condition is at fault. It is named for the mythical Cyclops, and has many different affects on the lives of affected children.

6. Craniopagus Parasiticus

This condition causes a child to be born with a partial twin, in the form of a parasitic head attached to their own. In history, only 10 cases have been documented and only 3 survived birth. There was one extreme case where the parasitic head could blink, smile, suckle, and cry.

7. Polydactyly

This condition is when extra digits on the hands or feet are present. Some people have been documented to have as many as two or three extra digits, although a single extra digit is the most common. This condition is quite rare in humans, but common in cats where three or more extra digits are actually a regular occurrence.

8. Anencephaly

When the brain and spinal cord are missing, it is known as anencephaly. This is a very rare condition with no cure, and most babies die during the birthing process. Babies born with this condition are typically blind, unconscious, deaf, and not able to feel pain. The lack of a functioning brain makes it impossible to ever gain consciousness, but reflex actions like breathing can occur. More about causes of anencephaly.

9. Progeria

This is a serious disease that causes the body to age at a rapid rate, many times that of normal development. Progeria is present in 1 of every 8 million births, causing children to look aged when they are very young, and most won't survive adolescence because of the effect this condition has on the heart.

10. Vestigial Tail

This syndrome occurs when a child is born with a semi-functional tail. The tail includes nerves, muscles, blood vessels, and skin. The cause is thought to be a mutation that occurs in the genes responsible for killing unnecessary body parts during development. It is relatively harmless, aside from the social stigma.


There are a lot of bizarre birth defects out there in the world today, but these are definitely the top 10 that are the most talked about. When things go wrong in development, a lot of issues can occur. Unfortunately, the most bizarre defects are often the ones that have no cure or survival rate, which makes it difficult for people to deal with. The fetal development process is a precarious one and there are many things that can go wrong along the way, including the birth defects listed here. There are no guarantees or surefire way to avoid defects because many of the exact causes are unknown or uncontrollable, but research is always ongoing to find more information and a better way.


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    • GalaxyRat profile image

      GalaxyRat 7 months ago from The Crazy Rat Lady's House

      I loved it... thanks for writing.

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 3 years ago from Oz

      Fascinating read. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and interesting