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Although my fellow Olympian deity Bacchus insists that this festive season should be dedicated to feasting and drinking, as Goddess of childbirth Lucina (figure 1) thinks that we can celebrate just as effectively by enjoying some slightly more unusual articles from the recent literature…

Figure 1

Lucina, Roman Goddess of Childbirth.

A hypoplastic left heart survivor from 4500 BC

Modern imaging techniques can be used to study ancient mummified corpses, contributing to the expanding field of paleopathology. Some of these mummies are infants, and one such is the Detmold Child (figure 2), named after the museum in Germany where it is kept. Radio-carbon dating suggests it to be 6500 years old. Dental examination suggests that the age at death was 6 months. A research team carried out high-resolution 3D CT imaging of the heart (no risk of movement artefact here): this revealed a hypoplastic left ventricle and aorta, an enlarged pulmonary artery, a ventricular septal defect and an enlarged common atrium: typical features of hypoplastic left heart (HLH) syndrome (Haas NA et al. Lancet …

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