Girl, 9, gives birth in Amazon rainforest

A nine-year-old girl of the Apurina tribe in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest gave birth to a baby earlier this week and doctors said on Friday police were investigating whether she was raped.

“We know of early pregnancies in some tribes, but I have never heard of a nine-year-old getting pregnant and giving birth before,” said Christiane da Costa, a doctor in the hospital where the girl underwent a Caesarean section on Wednesday in Manaus, the capital of the Amazon state.

A spokesman for the local healthcare administration said they had no reports of such cases in the Amazon state “at least for several decades”.

Police have asked anthropologists from the National Indian Foundation to help investigate Apurina tribal customs regarding sex with young girls.

The nine-year-old mother, who is only 1.3 metres tall, and the baby girl are well, although they remain under constant medical observation. The mother had an almost full-term pregnancy but her weight was below normal.

“The girl is only starting to feel that she’s a mother, with the help of our psychologist. She’s still playing with her dolls and watching cartoons in her room, like a child would,” da Costa said, speaking by telephone from Manaus.

The girl had spent three months in the hospital under observation after her 19-year-old sister took her to Manaus from the riverside town of Manacapuru. She had a high fever and was initially diagnosed with malaria, pneumonia and an ear infection.

“We thought she was deaf and mute, but that seems to have been caused by the chronic otitis (ear infection). She understands Portuguese and can now say a few words, too,” da Costa said.

Reuters

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