In 1939, a healthy young girl named Lina Medina gave birth to an equally healthy baby boy. The only noteworthy detail about this event was the mother’s age: she was five-years-old.
In the early spring of 1939, parents in a remote village in Peru noticed that their five-year-old daughter’s belly became enlarged.
Fearful that the continual swelling was a sign of an abdominal tumour, Tiburelo Medina and Victoria Losea took their little girl from the family’s home in Ticrapo to a doctor far away in Lima.
To their shock and horror, the doctor discovered that their daughter, Lina Medina, was seven months pregnant. Just six weeks later on 14 May 1939, Medina gave birth via c-section to a healthy, six-pound baby boy. At five years, seven months, and 21 days of age, she became the youngest girl known to have given birth.
Her case took paediatricians of the time by surprise and gained national attention that she and her family never wanted. Medina has never revealed who the father was, and to this day she and her family still shun publicity from the outside world.
Despite the mystery that continues to surround the case of the world’s youngest confirmed mother, more insight has come to light on who the father of Lina Medina’s baby was and just how she got pregnant.
A Case of Precocious Puberty
Born on 23 September 1933, in one of the poorest villages in Peru, Lina Medina as one of nine children. And even though her pregnancy came as a disturbing shock to her loved ones (and the public), the idea that a 5-year-old child could get pregnant wasn’t entirely unthinkable to pediatric endocrinologists.
Precocious puberty is a rare genetic condition in which a child’s body reaches sexual maturity and beings changing into that of an adult before the age of eight.
Boys with this condition will often experience a deepening voice, enlarged genitals, and even facial hair. Girls with this condition will typically have their first period and develop breasts much earlier than normal.
It affects about one in every 10,000 children. Roughly 10 times more girls than boys develop this way.
In most cases, 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 fast than their peers.
For that reason, there are suspicious that precocious puberty might be accelerated by sexual contact at an early age.
Another doctor, Dr Edmundo Escomel, reported to a medical journal that she had her first period at only eight months old. Prior to his confirmation, other publications were claiming that she had been having regular menstrual periods from the age of three.
Further examination of 5-year-old Medina showed that she also had already developed breasts, wider-than-normal hips, and advanced (that is, post-pubescent) bone growth.
To all appearances, at the time that Lina Medina got pregnant which would have been right around her fifth birthday, her body was that of a very petite, immature woman.
Lina Medina: Pregnant At Five
Precocious puberty is a good explanation for Lina Medina’s pregnancy, but obviously, it doesn’t explain everything.
She was, after all, a child herself. So somebody had to get her pregnant. And given the 100,000-to-1 odds against it, that person probably wasn’t a precociously pubescent five-year-old boy.
Medina never told her doctors or the authorities who the father was or the circumstances of the assault that had to occur for her to become pregnant. Due to her young age, she might not have even known herself.
Dr Escomel even said that she “couldn’t give precise responses” when questioned about the father.
Tiburelo, Medina’s father who worked as `a local silversmith, was briefly arrested for suspected child rape. However, he was eventually released and the charges against him dropped when no evidence or witness statements could be found to hold him. Tiburelo strenuously denied ever having had sex with his own daughter.
In an article about the case, published in the Chicago Tribune in October of 1955, author Luis Leon reported that many of the remote Indian villages of Peru held regular religious festivals throughout the year that still maintain a strong pre-Christian atmosphere. Those events frequently devolve into “orgies where rape was not uncommon.”
It is not unheard of for children to be present at, or at least not far from, these revelries. In the absence of a confession or other facts about Lina Medina’s case, including her own observed difficulty with giving clear statements, this theory provides a plausible and heartbreaking explanation.