Doctors at Dr Malizo Mpehle Memorial Hospital in Tsolo delivered a baby with an eye and a penis on the forehead last week, the provincial health department said.
The baby girl, who was born to a 16-year-old girl from Qumbu, did not survive.
Eastern Cape department of health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the baby was born with one eye on her forehead and no eyes where her eyes should have been.
She had a penis on the forehead even though she is a girl; and exposed small and large intestines.
“She was born with a small penis on the forehead and one eye on the forehead,” Kupelo said.
“She was born with no nose and where there are supposed to be eyes there was nothing, just skin covered over the area.”
Earlier this month, a pair of conjoined twins was born, also at the Dr Malizo Mpehle district hospital in Tsolo. Kupelo said at the time that they were the fifth set of conjoined twins born in the former Transkei in the past 18 months.
Last year in November, one child was born with an exposed heart in Port Elizabeth and another reported case was one with an exposed brain in Middleberg.
Kupelo said this pressed for the department to do a study. There were 29 birth defects last year alone.
“We urge pregnant women to start ante-natal care early for early detection,” said Kupelo, adding that this was vital especially in the first trimester.
He said pregnant women should always inform doctors that they are pregnant whenever they consult to avoid being given prescription medication that could be harmful to the child.
Kupelo also urged expectant mothers to refrain from using traditional herbs.
“We are not saying these are the causes of these defects, but they are possible contributory factors,” he said..
The Eastern Cape health department has called for more research into why so many babies have been born with deformities in the province.
“We are counting 50 deformities within a period of two years,” Kupelo said.
“We don’t have a documented cause.”
Deformities, besides conjoined twins, included babies being born with their heart or brain exposed, having two penises or four legs.
Kupelo said doctors in the area, were “in the dark” about the causes.
“This calls for a need for specialists to conduct a study in the area so as to determine what the cause is.”
The department was “in talks” about the urgent need for research by paediatric specialists into the problem.
Kupelo said most of the babies with deformities died soon after birth, or during procedures to try and rectify the deformities.
“Where necessary we attempt procedures but unfortunately the majority dies,” he said. – the sowetan