World's first surviving octuplets

A 27-YEAR-OLD woman yesterday gave birth to the world's first set of surviving octuplets. Nkem Chukwu, from Houston, gave birth to five girls and two boys by Caesarean section. The other child, a girl, was born two weeks ago. All eight were in intensive care yesterday and said to be in a critical condition.

Dr Patti Saverick, a paediatrician at the Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, said the children, whose weight ranges from 11ozs to 1lb 11ozs, were doing as well as could be expected. The eldest was 12 weeks premature and the rest 10 weeks.

Ms Chukwu, who went into hospital in October and has been confined to bed for six weeks, was said to be stable. Doctors said that to keep the pressure off her lower body for the last three weeks of the pregnancy, her bed was at an extreme incline with her head towards the floor.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest multiple birth was nine babies in Sydney, Australia, in 1971. Six survived. Last year Bobbi McCaughey, 29, gave birth to seven children in Iowa and another set of seven was born in Saudi Arabia this year.

Mr Chukwu's doctors believed she was carrying six or seven babies at most, but after the first was born on 8 December a scan showed seven more remained in the womb.

The children are the first for Ms Chukwu and her husband, Ike. The couple had been receiving fertility treatment.

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