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
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
people
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick