That "9-Year-Old" Mother Is at Least 12, Possibly Older

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 14 2013 2:39 PM

The Story of the "9-Year-Old" Mother Isn't True. The Real One Isn't Any Happier.

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A file photo of a newborn baby

Photo by Qais Usyan/AFP/Getty Images

All those breathless reports last week of a 9-year-old girl giving birth in Mexico were wrong: The mother is at least 12 or 13 (according to authorities), and possibly as old as 15 (according to a government doctor). But while that reality may be less headline-ready it's not actually any happier: The child-mother apparently wasn't impregnated by her 17-year-old "boyfriend" as was initially thought but instead by her 44-year-old stepfather.

Here's the revised story from ABC News:

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The girl, identified as Dafne, was impregnated by her 44-year-old step-father, according to Lino Gonzalez Corona, a spokesperson for the Jalisco State Prosecutor’s Office. The stepfather is under arrest after admitting to having his first sexual encounter with Dafne in April 2012 and a second in June.
Dafne’s mother was unaware of the sexual relationship, according to Corona. She thought the baby’s father was a 17-year-old boy that her daughter had met at a local market.

The original claim that she was only 9 years old came from her parents, but authorities began to ask questions after discovering that they hadn't registered her age with the government until 2011.

Regardless, it's clear that no matter the girl's actual age, her body wasn't ready to carry a child. According to the Hospital General de Occidente director Enrique Rabago: "Due to her age, her body is not able (or) in the best shape to have a baby." She gave birth by c-section and, thankfully, both children were in good condition following the procedure. Doctors say that before they released the mother from the hospital, they inserted a hormone-based birth control implant inside her that will work for three years. (Because it was picked up in other coverage of the story, it's worth mentioning that a previous report, albeit from the Daily Mail, had wrongly claimed that the girl was permanently sterilized against her will).

The girl and her newborn reportedly "vanished" soon after being released from the hospital after doubts were raised about her real age. ABC had previously reported that Dafne is one of 11 children living with her parents in a slum south of Guadalajara.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.