/ 27 January 2009

US woman makes history with healthy octuplets

In only the second time in US medical history, a woman in California has given birth to eight babies, who remain in intensive care but are in a stable condition.

Dozens of medical workers in four delivery rooms helped welcome the healthy octuplets in only five minutes at a medical centre on Monday in Bellflower, 30km south of Los Angeles.

“Today we had an unprecedented, very exciting day when we, our team of 46 physicians, nurses as well as respiratory therapists delivered eight babies, all born alive and very vigorous,” said Karen Maples, an obstetrician at the hospital.

Maples said the babies were born premature by nine-and-a-half weeks and weighed between 680g and 1,54kg.

The doctors and mother, who requested anonymity for her children, had expected seven babies.

“After we got to baby G, which is what we expected, we were surprised by the arrival of baby H!” said Maples at a press conference.

“It’s quite easy to miss a baby when you have seven. Performing an ultrasound is very difficult,” admitted another doctor Harold Henry.

The babies were resuscitated at birth and are “all doing good”, according to Mandhir Gupta, head of neonatology at the centre.

“All are in stable condition. Two of them have breathing tubes and are on a ventilator. A third one also needs some oxygen. The others are breathing [on their own] and doing well,” he said.

“They face many obstacles, weight is a concern, [the smaller one] has a long way to go.”

Although not commenting on the identity of the mother, Gupta said she is “doing very, very well, she’s really excited that she got all of these babies, and that they’re doing good so far”.

“She’s going to breastfeed them,” he added. “She’s a strong woman.”

In a press release, the hospital said it was only the second time octuplets have been born and lived through the day.

A local California television station said the first occurrence in US history was in Texas a decade ago, but one of the infants died a week after being born. — AFP