A California woman gave birth to octuplets (8 babies born at the same time) on Monday at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Bellflower, which is a suburb of Los Angeles. It is believed to be only the second time that eight babies have ever been born at one time in the United States.
Hospital officials report that the six boys and two girls are in the neonatal intensive care unit and are all in stable condition. Interestingly, doctors were only expecting seven babies, and thus were astonished to discover that octuplets were on the way. Reportedly, the babies, who were born nine weeks prematurely and delivered by cesarean section, were attended to by a team of 46 medical professionals.
Woman Gives Birth to Octuplets (8 Babies Born at the Same Time): Risks Associated with Multiple Births and Fertility Treatment
Multiple births are usually attributed to fertility drugs, but, citing patient/hospital confidentiality rules, officials declined to say whether or not the mother discussed above had undergone fertility treatment. Though it’s a delicate issue to raise amidst the incredible news reported above, multiple births as a result of fertility treatment is a somewhat controversial issue.
The BBC reports that multiple births can be risky. Because the uterus is designed to carry a limited amount of fetuses (it can only provide oxygen and nourishment to so many embryos), multiple fetuses dramatically raise the risk of premature births, future health problems, and, sadly, even death. Tragically, this is precisely what happened the last time octuplets were born in the United States. Six girls and two boys were born to a woman in Houston in 1998. Unfortunately, one of the girls died a week after her birth.
The BBC notes that even twins are at greater risk for health problems such as birth defects, blindness and cerebral palsy. But the whole issue is thorny to say the least, because most prospective parents who have fertility issues opt to have multiple children rather than none at all. Yet by choosing to run the risk of multiple births, parents set themselves up for the possibility of a tragedy. For instance, the BBC notes that in “some multiple pregnancies, doctors may recommend that some of the embryos be aborted so that the others have more of a chance of survival because they have more space.”
That is a choice that no parent should have to make. And no parent should have to see one of their precious babies die a week – or sooner – after the child is born. Yet a couple who desperately want to have children should be able to enjoy such a blessing. One rather obvious solution comes to mind: Adoption.
8 Babies Born At Same In California, a11news.com, January 27, 2009
Multiple births and fertility treatment, BBC NEWS, December 21, 1998