A girl has been born with 26 fingers and toes in India, in an unusual occurrence.
The baby—born at the Kaman community health center in Deeg district of Rajasthan on Sunday—has seven fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. Her family believe she may be an incarnation of a Hindu goddess, Indian news outlet Ary News reported.
However, the baby’s extra fingers and toes are a result of a genetic condition called polydactyly. It is one of the most-common hand abnormalities present at birth, but, usually, only one hand is affected, making this particular case quite rare. Approximately one out of every 500 to 1,000 children have the condition, per the Boston Children’s Hospital.
“There is no harm or side effect of this condition on the body,” Dr. B.S. Soni from the Kaman community health center told Ary News.
The condition varies across different ethnicities. Asian and white children are more likely to have an extra thumb, the Boston Children’s Hospital reports, while black children will usually have an additional little finger.
“She has come to our home as a goddess. We all are lucky that ‘Lakshmi’ [the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune, power, beauty, fertility and prosperity] has taken birth in our family,” the baby’s uncle Deepak told the news outlet. Both the mother and the girl are healthy.
Polydactyly usually develops while the baby is still in the mother’s womb. Before fingers are developed, the hands look like paddles, which then separate. If this process takes too long, then one of the baby’s five fingers may separate again. This creates an extra finger.
In this case, this process must have taken even longer than is usual for the genetic condition, considering there are several extra fingers and toes.
Doctors will usually notice polydactyly before birth, through an ultrasound during pregnancy. Once the child is born, medics usually undertake X-rays to determine the underlying structure, which will help with treatment options.
Often, there is no clear cause for why this happens. However, doctors believe it may be inherited, and more common in certain families.
Although the condition does not harm the baby’s overall health, the additional fingers can cause problems later on, when the child begins grasping for objects, for example.
For this reason, the extra fingers are usually removed when the child is slightly older, between the ages of 1 and 2 years old.
Do you have a tip on a science story that Newsweek should be covering? Do you have a question about polydactyly? Let us know via [email protected].