Official: Tunisian woman’s claim of 12-baby pregnancy a farce

August 19th, 2009

Official: Tunisian 12-baby pregnancy claim a farce

TUNIS, Tunisia — A Tunisian woman’s claim of being pregnant with 12 babies is a farce, a health official said Wednesday.

Dr. Mongi Hamrouni, head of the ministry’s public health department, said he was “more than 99 percent” sure the woman claiming to be expecting six boys and six girls has a mental problem.

Medical experts were dispatched to the central city of Gafsa where the 30-year-old woman resides, but she again refused to be examined, another health ministry official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the case.

Mansour Hamhoum, a regional health official in charge of Gafsa, said he could not locate any medical records of the pregnancy in the city hospital.

The woman’s lawyer Lotsi Smat said she’s a former Arabic language teacher. Smat said he also doubted the woman’s claim after she refused to show him an ultrasound confirming her pregnancy.

Health experts say a 12-baby pregnancy is next to impossible. They believe the woman could be experiencing a “phantom pregnancy,” a rare condition where a woman believes she is pregnant and can actually develop symptoms consistent with pregnancy, like a swelling abdomen, missing a period or feeling that a baby is moving inside her.

AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng in London contributed to this report.

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