Doctors in southwestern China have removed a needle from the brain of an 11-year-old girl, believed inserted after birth in an attempted murder by relatives who had wanted a boy, a report said on Thursday.
Rusted needle shards were detected by doctors in August after fruitless attempts by the girl's mother over the years to find the cause of an apparent mental disability, the Sichuan Online news website reported.
The girl, identified as "Ping Ping", did not begin walking or talking until she was six, currently has the intelligence level of a three-year-old, and has suffered for years from unexplained fevers, it said.
She was said to be recovering from the operation at a hospital in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province.
The child's mother, Yang Xiaohui, said she suspected that relatives had tried to kill the child shortly after birth.
Under China's "one child" family planning policy, the traditional cultural and economic preference for boys remains strong, especially in the vast and poor countryside.
Reports of aborted female foetuses and infanticide remain common.
In 2007, doctors in southwestern Yunnan province discovered 26 needles embedded in the body of a 29-year-old woman, state media said at the time.