308 MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE
4. Superfecnndation. — By superfecundation is meant the fertilization
of two ova of the same period of ovulation by two separate acts of coitus
committed at short intervals. This occurrence is possible, but it is difficult
to prove in human beings, since both fertilized ova develop as twins and go
to full term at about the same period. A law suit 22 about the paternity of
twins is reported, where it was contended on the basis of blood group tests
that the defendant could not have been the father of one of the twins, that
is, the twins must have had two fathers, and this, in turn, would prove the
possibility of superfecundation in human beings.
5. Superfcetation. — By superfoetation is meant the impregnation of an
ovum belonging to a subsequent period of ovulation after the ovum
discharged from a previous ovulation has been developing for a month or
more. The occurrence of superfoetation is possible, though rare, inasmuch
as ovulation may take place especially during the first three months of
gestation until the decidua vera comes into apposition with the decidua
reflexa and the decidual cavity is obliterated. Its occurrence in a bipartite
or double uterus is certainly probable. The result of superfcetation would
be the birth at the same time of two foetuses showing different stages of
development, or the birth of two fully developed foetuses at different periods
varying from one to three months.
The following case recorded by Tyler Smith23 conclusively proves the
occurrence of superf cetation : —
A young married woman, pregnant for the first time, miscarried at the end of the
fifth month, and some hours afterwards a small clot was discharged enclosing a perfectly
healthy ovum of about one month. There were no signs of double uterus in this case.
The patient had menstruated regularly during the period that she had been pregnant.
John M. Maury24 reports that at the post-mortem examination on the body of a
coloured woman, aged 35 years, who died from pulmonary tuberculosis, the uterus
contained a well-formed foetus of thirteen or fourteen weeks, and a much smaller
embryo of six weeks was found in the left Fallopian tube.
Sussi25 also reports a case of superfoetation, A primipara, aged 32, gave birth to
a full-term boy and twenty minutes later to a living female foetus of about the sixth
fetal month. There was a great difference in the sizes and in weights of the foetuses,
the ratio being 7 : 1 and there was also a considerable difference in the two placentas.
A case 26 is mentioned in which a female labourer from Mangalore gave birth to a
child on December 22, 1948, and after an interval of 18 days she was delivered of another
child. The lady doctor who attended her stated that this was due to the fact that the
woman had a double uterus.
Bhagwat27 describes a case of a seven-para woman, who gave birth to a child
in the seventh month of the pregnancy. The child died on the second day. After about
fwenty-six days she was delivered of a second child, which weighed 3| Ibs. It cried
well at the time of delivery, and took to feeds normally. It was alive till twelve days,
until she was discharged from the hospital. On examination, it was found that this was
& result of a bicornuate uterus. All the other deliveries were normal.
Cases of supposed superfoetation may, however, be explained in other
ways. If twins are born together of apparently very unequal development,
flbis may be due simply to one of the twins having failed to obtain an equal
, share of nutriment during intra-uterine life. If the less developed foetus is
r; DewtscKe^Mediz^msche Wochenschrift, Stuttgart, April 8, 1949, p. 417.
23. M an. of Obstetr^ p. 172.
24. Jo*in Amer. Med. Assac.* Jan. 10, 1925, p. 139.
25. gCqdfejiinifte&e Kliwlb, Bafc, Oct U, 1935, p. 1934; Jour. Amer. Med. Assoc., Nov.
2®. w ftMoM ^ews of tiufytt 3Way a, 1950.
Jfedtcol Assoe., May 1953, p. 330.