A doctor examined a woman in a vegetative state nearly nine months before she gave birth but did not find that she was pregnant.
Medical experts said Thursday that it’s possible she displayed no outward signs that workers who cared for her every day would have noticed either.
Police are looking for her rapist and say it appears none of the staff members at the Hacienda HealthCare facility in Arizona, US knew about the pregnancy until the baby was born on December 29.
The 29-year-old woman, who is described in a medical report as having tubes to feed her and help her breathe, may not have had a swollen belly, according to a doctor of foetal medicine.
“A good way to understand it is that really, the baby’s going to continue to grow even at the expense of the mom’s nutrition,” Dr C. Kevin Huls, a clinical assistant professor and maternal-fetal medicine fellowship director at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix said.
“So, her weight may not change because she’s not taking in additional calories.
“There may be changes to her body that are going to go undetected in a chronic care condition or at a facility like this.”
A doctor examined the woman on April 16 and found “no change” in her health, writing that the exam was external only, according to Maricopa County Superior Court documents.
The baby and the woman are recovering at an area hospital, and their conditions were not released. Her family will care for the baby boy, according to a statement through their attorney.
Police are gathering DNA samples from the facility’s male staffers and have appealed to the public for any information. It remains unclear to investigators if the woman was raped more than once.
The facility has implemented increased safety measures, including more than one staff member being present during patient interactions and more scrutiny of visitors.
The company has said it welcomes DNA testing of its male staffers and is cooperating in the investigation.