Octuplets born 'screaming and kicking'

A woman gave birth to eight babies, only the second time in history octuplets have survived more than a few hours, doctors said.

The mother gave birth yesterday to six boys and two girls weighing between 1 pound, 8 ounces (680 grams) and 3 pounds, 4 ounces (1.474 kilograms), doctors at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center said. The hospital had scheduled a Caesarean section for seven babies, but doctors were surprised when an eighth came out at 10:48 a.m.

"My eyes were wide," Dr. Karen Maples said, explaining her reaction to the last birth.

Doctors said the babies were born nine weeks premature but are in stable condition. Two newborns were placed on ventilators and a third needs oxygen.

Hospital officials would not release any information about the mother, including her name, condition or whether she used fertility drugs. They did, however, say she planned to breast feed all of them.

"She's a very strong woman, so she probably will be able to handle all eight babies," said Dr. Mandhir Gupta, a neo-natologist who cared for the infants.

The mother checked into the hospital in her 23rd week of pregnancy and gave birth seven weeks later. All eight babies will probably remain in the hospital for at least two months and the mother should be released in a week, Maples said.

The world's first live octuplets were born in March 1967 in Mexico City, but all the babies died within 14 hours, according to Encyclopedia Britanica.

The United States' first live octuplets were born in Houston in December 1998. They were three months premature and their weights at birth ranged from 11 ounces (312 grams) to 1 pound, 11 ounces (765 grams). The tiniest infant died of heart and lung failure a week after being born. The surviving siblings — girls Ebuka, Gorom, Chidi, Chima and Echerem, and their brothers Ikem and Jioke — turned 10 in December.

Their Nigerian-born mother and father, Nkem Chukwu and Iyke Louis Udobi, said they are astonished and grateful their children have grown up to be healthy and active. Chukwu is even happier to hear another mother successfully accomplished the same feat.

"It's a blessing, truly a blessing," Chukwu told The Associated Press. "We'll keep praying for them."

Forty-six hospital staff and four delivery rooms were used for the latest octuplets' births. After one baby was born, staff rushed the newborn into another room and waited for the next, the hospital said. But despite weeks of preparation, doctors did not expect the eighth child.

"It is quite easy to miss a baby when you're anticipating seven babies," said Dr. Harold Henry, chief of maternal and fetal medicine at the hospital. "Ultrasound doesn't show you everything."

Doctors said they repeatedly conducted practice sessions on the deliveries and were well prepared. Gupta said the woman was given spinal anesthesia and could hear the babies as they came out.

"When the first baby came out, he was crying and kicking," Gupta said. "That eased the tension in the operating room because the first one came out healthy."

Dr. Richard Paulson, director of the fertility program at the University of Southern California, said octuplets born premature could face serious health risks, including breathing problems and neurological damage. The mother also has an increased risk of hemorrhage, Paulson said.

"It's a risky decision to try to have all eight babies," said Paulson, who had no role in the delivery. "I would not recommend it under any circumstances, but I respect a parent's decision."

For people who use fertility drugs, the vast majority of births — 80 percent — are single babies. Among multiple births, the most common are twins, Paulson said.

Paulson said the latest births likely resulted from the use of fertility drugs and not in vitro fertilization.

"When you hear about someone having octuplets, it's almost always the case that they took fertility medications and not IVF," he said.

It's easier to control the number of births through in vitro fertilization, which involves combining egg and sperm in a lab dish and transferring the embryo into the uterus. Fertility drugs induce or enhance ovulation and couples often opt for selective reduction, in which women carrying multiple fetuses reduce the number of viable fetuses to two.

The Bellflower medical center is about 17 miles (27 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent