USA - HEALTH

California woman gives birth to octuplets

For only the second time in US history, a woman has given birth to octuplets, six boys and two girls, who were premature by nine and a half weeks but remain in stable condition at a California hospital. The family have requested anonymity.

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AFP - In only the second time in US medical history, a woman in California has given birth to eight babies, who remain in intensive care but are in a stable condition.

Dozens of medical workers in four delivery rooms helped welcome the healthy octuplets -- six boys and two girls -- in only five minutes at a medical center Monday in Bellflower, 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Los Angeles.

"Today we had an unprecedented, very exciting day when we, our team of 46 physicians, nurses as well as respiratory therapists delivered eight babies, all alive born and very vigorous," said Karen Maples, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the hospital managed by the Kaiser Permanente group.

Maples said the babies were born premature by nine and a half weeks, between 10:33 am and 10:38 am (1833 GMT and 1838 GMT). They weighed between 1.5 pounds (680 grams) and 3.4 pounds (1.54 kg).

The doctors and mother, who requested anonymity for her children, had expected seven babies.

"After we got to baby G, which is what we expected, we were surprised by the arrival of baby H!" said Maples at a press conference.

"It's quite easy to miss a baby when you have seven. Performing an Ultrasound is very difficult," admitted another doctor Harold Henry.

The babies were resuscitated at birth and are "all doing good," according to Mandhir Gupta, head of neonatology at the center.

"All of them are in stable condition. Two of them have breathing tubes and are on a ventilator. A third one also needs some oxygen. The others are breathing (on their own) and doing well," he said.

"They face many obstacles, weight is a concern, (the smaller one) has a long way to go."

Although not commenting on the identity of the mother, Gupta said she is "doing very, very well, she's really excited that she got all of these babies, and that they're doing good so far."

"She's going to breastfeed them," he added. "She's a strong woman."

In a press release, Kaiser Permanente recalled that weeks of preparation had been devoted to a safe delivery -- of septuplets.

"The rehearsals all paid off as the babies were delivered flawlessly, just as they had practiced. But, after the seventh baby was delivered -- there was a surprise," said the company.

"Doctor Alejandro Vasquez said, 'Wait a minute, I think I feel a hand'."

"What a shocker this was," recalled Maples.

Each of the babies "cried spontaneously after birth," said the health care provider.

Said to be only the second time octuplets have been born in the United States and lived through the day, the babies are now in the first 72-hour period that is critical for their health.

Local California television station KCAL9 said the first occurrence of octuplets in US history was in Texas a decade ago, but one of the infants died a week after being born.
 

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