California octuplets breathing on their own

Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:36pm EST
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By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - One day after a California woman gave birth to octuplets, doctors said on Tuesday that all eight babies were doing well and breathing on their own.

The woman, who astonished a 46-member medical team at a suburban Los Angeles hospital by delivering eight babies when ultrasound images had shown seven, was also said to be doing well.

The six boys and two girls, born nine weeks prematurely, are only the second set of octuplets known to have survived birth in the United States.

"The first test is the breathing test and ... they are breathing on their own," Dr. Mandhir Gupta told reporters. "They still need some support with oxygen but only through the nose so most of the work of breathing is done by themselves."

A second test for the newborns is feeding. The staff at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Bellflower planned to begin that process with four of the babies later on Tuesday.

The mother, whose name has been withheld by the hospital at her request, intended to breast feed all of her babies. But she has not yet been able to hold them because they were still in incubators in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, Gupta said.

The hospital has declined to say whether the woman became pregnant through fertility treatments, which can raise the likelihood of multiple births.

"We had an unprecedented, very exciting day in our operating room and labor delivery where our team of 46 physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists as well as surgical techs delivered eight babies, all live born," Dr. Karen Maples said, adding: "It was a truly, truly amazing delivery."

The last octuplets known to have survived birth in the United States, six girls and two boys, were born in Houston in 1998. One of the babies, a girl, died one week later.

(Editing by Xavier Briand)

<p>Doctor Karen Maples (4th R) , Chief of Service, Obstetrics and Gynecology, speaks during a news conference about the conditions of the octuplets in Bellflower, California January 27, 2009. A California woman shocked doctors by giving birth on Monday to octuplets, believed to be only the second set of eight babies born in the United States. The six boys and two girls were doing well and were in stable condition in the neonatal intensive care unit, said Dr. Maples. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>