Tumor With Teeth Discovered in Baby’s Brain


Surgeons discovered a tumor with teeth in a four-month-old infant’s brain, after the baby’s mother noticed his head was quickly growing larger. The unnamed child from Maryland might be the first person to have had teeth found in his brain as a result of a rare brain tumor and further analysis revealed a craniopharyngioma that can grow larger than a golf ball, but which does not spread. Although he will require hormone therapy for the rest of his life, the boy’s condition has been stabilized and is doing well.

Physicians who suspected that the cells involved in making teeth are the same with the ones that create a brain tumor received their answer after multiple teeth were discovered in a four-month-old baby’s brain. A trip to the doctor and a MRI gave surgeons a startling news, namely that structures attached to the mass looked like tooth material, the sort which usually grows in the lower jaw. During the surgery, they found multiple fully formed teeth which were extracted and sent to a pathologist.

The National Cancer Institute stated that craniopharyngiomas are most often diagnosed in children with ages between five to 14, and are rare in children below the age of two. At the same time, doctor Narlin Beaty, neurosurgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center mentioned that the case is, indeed, unique.

“It’s not every day you see teeth in any type of tumor in the brain,” doctor Beaty said. “In a craniopharyngiomas, it’s unheard of.”

The mass measured 4.1 centimeters by 4 centimeters by 3.5 centimeters and “showed up structure structures on the right side.” Beaty added that craniopharyngiomas usually contain calcium deposits, but pulling out a full tooth is “something slightly different.”

Prior Cases

Finding teeth in people’s brains is not uncommon and the tumor is called teratomas, but what differentiates this type from the craniopharyngiomas of the four-month-old is that the former contains “all three of the tissue types found in an early-stage human embryo,” while the latter has only one layer of tissue.

The rare brain tumor with teeth which was discovered in the baby’s brain does not spread, but the patient underwent surgery and, according to doctor Beaty, he is “doing extremely well, all things considered.”

The case of the boy from Maryland offers more evidence that craniopharyngiomas are created from the same cells that make teeth, reason why the teeth extracted were sent to a pathologist for further research. Although the infant is not the first person to have had teeth formed in brain, the condition known as craniopharyngiomas is not usually linked to such formations.

The tumor destroyed the baby’s capacity to release particular hormones, which means that he will be forced to undergo hormone therapy for the rest of his life, but, according to the New England Journal of Medicine , the infant “is making good developmental progress.”

Doctors say that the case in which a tumor with teeth was discovered in a baby’s brain will shed some light on how rare tumors develop, especially since no craniopharyngiomas has been found with actual teeth in it.

By Gabriela Motroc

The New England Journal of Medicine
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