February 6, 2009 / 2:17 AM / 10 years ago

Octuplets were product of six embryos, mother says

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The California mother of octuplets said in an interview broadcast on Friday that her eight newborns were the product of six implanted embryos, the same procedure used to conceive her six earlier children.

Nadya Suleman (L) is shown being interviewed by NBC correspondent Ann Curry. REUTERS/Paul Drinkwater/NBC/Handout

In the NBC television interview, Nadya Suleman, 33, also defended her decision as a single mother to lead an “unconventional life” and to take responsibility for parenting so many children.

Suleman said she used the same in vitro fertilization specialist for all of her pregnancies. Each time she was implanted with six embryos.

Single and living with her mother in the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier, Suleman ended up as the parent of 10 boys and four girls after delivering octuplets on January 26.

Her first six children are said by local media to range in age from 2 to 7.

Asked if she was irresponsible and selfish for again undergoing a fertility treatment that could produce multiple births, Suleman said: “A lot of couples .. undergo this procedure; It’s not as controversial because they’re couples, so it’s more acceptable to society.”

“I feel as though I’ve been under the microscope because I’ve chosen this unconventional kind of life,” she added. “I didn’t intend on it being unconventional; it just turned out to be; all I wanted was children; I wanted to be a mom; that’s all I ever wanted in my life.”

NBC has been releasing excerpts since Thursday of its Suleman interview, conducted by Ann Curry hours after the mother was released from the hospital, and it plans to air more of the interview in coming days.

Suleman told Curry the same sperm donor fathered all 14 of her children, Curry said in remarks following the interview segments broadcast on Friday.

“This person (the father) she described as a friend,” Curry said. “He is overwhelmed at news of the octuplet’s birth but (she said) that she’s hoping he will be in their lives when he’s ready.”

The octuplets included two sets of twins, Curry said, adding that Suleman’s intended to have a total of seven children, not 14.

Suleman’s delivery of six boys and two girls marked only the second known set of U.S. octuplets to survive birth and was hailed as a medical triumph by her team of doctors.

But many reproductive specialists expressed dismay, saying high-number embryo implants entail many perils for mother and offspring.

For in vitro fertilization, eggs and sperm are combined in a dish, and physicians normally implant just one or two of the resulting embryos at a time.

Under most circumstances, transferring more embryos than that breaches medical guidelines designed to avoid high-risk multiple pregnancies, fertility experts have said.

Suleman said she had tried for seven years to get pregnant, according to the partial transcript of the NBC interview released on Thursday.

She went through various types of fertility assistance before she finally conceived through an “IVF procedure.”

“It was successful, and then I just kept going in.”

Editing by Vicki Allen

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