Litters of children are seemingly becoming a new fad all around the world - with well-known mothers like Nadya Suleman and Kate Gosselin. Now reports say there is a Tunisian woman who is pregnant with a record-breaking 12 babies.
The unnamed woman, a teacher, is in her 30's and is expecting six boys and six girls. She reportedly turned to fertility treatment after suffering two miscarriages in two years.
Though British fertility experts say that although it is possible to conceive 12 babies, such pregnancy was filled with risks, the woman claims to be in good health. She told hospital workers: "All I want to do is be able to hug my babies and show them all my ove. This is an absolute miracle, and we all feel blessed after struggling so hard to have children."
Her husband, only known as Marwan, who teaches at the same school as his wife in Tunisia, told the Assabah newspaper: "In the beginning, we thought that my wife would give birth to twins, but more foetuses were discovered. Our joy was increased with the growing number. The medical team told us that my wife would give birth naturally."
British experts, however, say that a natural birth would be impossible, and the strain of carrying 12 babies could lead to early labour at 20 weeks - just halfway through the pregnancy.
As ultrasound scans can work out a baby's sex only after about 16 weeks, it is likely the woman is nearing a critical stage.
"It is certainly possible to carry 12 babies but not for long," said Peter Bowen-Simpkins, of Britain's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecoogists. "The problem is the capacity of the uterus. This woman is going to be enormous by 20 weeks. And when the uterus goes into labour there is nothing you can do about it."
"The youngest that babies have survived is at 22 to 23 weeks. They need very intensive nursing and the majority have permanent neurological damage," he added. "You'd need a very good intensive paediatric unit to cope with this. We couldn't do it in this country, we don't have a unit with 12 intensive care cots."
"I don't like to dampen her enthusiasm but the chances are she will deliver at 20 weeks," he said. "I wouldn't even give her a one in 100 chance of even one surviving. It's frightening."
In California in January this year, single mother of six, Nadya Suleman, defied doctors' predictions when she gave birth to another eight healthy babies she gained through IVF treatment.
Previously, a 23-year-old Greek Cypriot became pregnant with a then record of 11 babies in 1996, but had to abort nine to save the lives of two.
In the same year, a British woman, Mandy Allwood, became pregnant with octuplets after taking fertility drugs. She ignored medical advice to abort some and lost all of them after they were born at only 22 weeks.
The Tunisian woman's pregnancy is likely to be the result of fertility drugs.
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