A baby born three months early in Los Angeles last week was delivered in a highly unusual state, still completely encased in it’s intact amniotic sac. It’s not unprecedented but it is apparently so rare that doctors involved in the delivery said “we all caught our breath.”
The phenomenon is known is en caul delivery which is Latin for for “head helmet.” Usually the amniotic sac is only wrapped around the baby’s head during this kind of birth which makes this full enclosure all the more rare.
To be “born with the caul” means a child is born with a portion of the amniotic sac or membrane remaining on the head. There are two types of cauls. The most common caul is adhered to the head and face, and looped around the ears of the infant. The lesser occurring caul drapes over the head and partly down the torso of the child. In Germany, this would be called a “helmet” [Galea] for boys, and in Italy, for girls, a “fillet” [vitta] or “shirt” [indusium, camisia].
The amniotic sac was removed, which was undoubtedly messy, and doctors then handled the baby they would any normal premature child. The baby’s mother, Chelsea Phillips, described the experience as being “really cool.”
“It was definitely like a clear film where you could definitely make out his head and his hair. He was kind of in a fetal position and you could see like his arms and his legs curled up,” she said. “It was actually really cool to see.”
Baby is currently doing fine and has since been sent home.