Angela Suleman, grandmother of the octuplets born in California on Monday, has come forward with some astonishing news: her daughter already had six children before giving birth to octuplets. Suleman says that her daughter had eight embryos successfully implanted last year and, despite being given the option to abort one or more for the purposes of minimizing risks associated with multiple births, refused to do so.
Birth of California Octuplets Provokes Controversy
Angela Suleman’s daughter, who is the mother of the octuplets born in California last Monday, has not yet come forward to tell her story. But this has not prevented doctors and medical ethicists from opining about the dangers associated with multiple births. Simply put, a multiple birth pregnancy is fraught with risks. For one thing, there is a much greater chance that multiples will be born prematurely. This raises the risk of a host of problems, including neurological diseases and developmental delays. The worst case scenario is that one or more of the babies will die.
“Octuplets are crazy with tremendous risk,” said Dr. Norman Gleicher, medical director at the Center for Human Reproduction in New York in an interview with CNN. “Our function as physicians is to help our patients to have babies, but it is our principle that patients have healthy babies. So we have an absolute responsibility to prevent high or multiple births.”
The California Octuplets are Doing Well
Thus far, all of the California octuplets, who were born prematurely and delivered by Caesarean section, are doing well. Two had to put on ventilators during the first few hours after birth, but the tubes were removed Monday night. Dr. Mandhir Gupta, director of neonatology at Kaiser Permanente hospital in Bellflower, California where the babies were born, however, has refused to comment on the babies chances of survival. He told CNN that “we’ve never had eight babies born at 30 weeks.” One would have to describe Dr. Gupta’s comments as being cautiously optimistic at best.
What makes this story so remarkable is that the birth of the California octuplets is only the second time that eight babies have been born at one time in the United States. In 1998, Nkem Chukwu of Houston, Texas, gave birth to the first set of octuplets born at the same time in the United States. Sadly, one of the baby girls, Odera, died of lung and heart failure a week after her birth. Let us all hope and pray that all of Angela Suleman’s grandchildren – the California octuplets – will survive and thrive.
Photo: Angela Suleman Daughter Had Six Children Before Octuplets!, Toshiba Reynolds, The Post Chronicle, January 30, 2009
Extreme multiple births carry tremendous risks, Madison Park, CNN