True Medical Rarity: Baby Born Inside Amniotic Sac
The water never broke before Silas Johnson entered the world
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2015 8:06 AM CST
Updated Feb 25, 2015 8:10 AM CST
Silas Philips was delivered prematurely, at 26 weeks, via emergency cesarean section at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.   (Cedars-Sinai Medical Center)

(Newser) – Silas Johnson recently entered the world through emergency cesarean section at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, but what makes his case truly extraordinary is that he was born at 26 weeks with his amniotic sac still perfectly intact around him, holding the placenta and umbilical cord as well, reports KHON2. "It was a moment that really did, even though it's a cliche, [make us catch] our breath," says neonatologist William Binder. "It really felt like a moment of awe." Mom Chelsea Philips had no idea until her mom showed her a picture later. "He was kind of in a fetal position and you could see like his arms and his legs curled up," she says. "It was actually really cool to see, and when I heard that was actually really rare, I was like, oh my gosh, you're a special little baby."

In fact, it's in just 1 in 80,000 births or so that the thin, tough membrane still covers part of a newborn's body, and it's typically the head, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. But being born "en caul," as it's called, where the entire body is still surrounded by the sac (with the placenta providing oxygen), is a true medical rarity most OB-GYNs will never see. The doctor "was in awe when the baby just popped out completely enclosed," per a Cedars-Sinai statement. "They had just a short amount of time to get the baby out of the sac and ... he had to puncture the sac with his fingers." Silas, now nearly 3 months old, is healthy and expected to leave the hospital around his due date next month. (One girl was born in China last year at 23 weeks.)