Last week, a 12-year-old Dutch girl went into labor while on a school field trip. Neither she nor her family were previously aware that she was pregnant. Teachers rushed the girl to Groningen Hospital in a northern part of the Netherlands, where she gave birth to a healthy baby.
In the modern era, 12 is a tragically young age to give birth in developed nations. That's a cultural fact rather than physical one, though: Twelve-year-old mothers aren't unusual in some parts of the world. What's the youngest a woman can give birth, physically?
A woman can get pregnant and have a baby as soon as she begins ovulating, or producing eggs. This typically occurs about a year after they first begin menstruating, which for North American women, usually happens between the ages of 11 and 12. Some women start ovulating late, though, and others, extremely early. The early onset of menstration is called "precocious puberty."
Lina Medina, a Peruvian girl born in 1933, began menstruating at the age of eight months, was tragically raped as a 5-year-old and gave birth at six years, five months. She is the youngest confirmed mother in medical history. Medina is still alive today. Her son, born by caesarian section, was raised as her brother.
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Originally published on Live Science.