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Sextuplets in fair condition: Vancouver hospital
Last Updated: Monday, January 8, 2007 | 11:01 PM ET
CBC News

The first sextuplets born in Canada are in fair condition, a Vancouver hospital official said Monday.

Officials had confirmed earlier Monday that a woman had given birth to six babies at BC Women’s Hospital, one on Saturday and five early Sunday.

“Mom is resting and doing well. The babies are in fair condition, which means their vital signs are stable and within normal limits,” hospital president Dr. Liz Whynot told a news conference late in the day.

She said the parents, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, “are focusing all their energy on their new family.

“While they understand there is a lot of public interest in the birth of their babies, they are feeling overwhelmed. So they’re asking for their privacy to be respected.”

Dr. Brian Lupton, director of the hospital’s neonatal unit, said the babies were born at a gestational age of 25 weeks, adding that there is an 80 per cent survival rate for babies born at that age.

“The average length of stay for a 25-week gestation baby in Canada is around 100 days of neonatal intensive care,” Lupton said. Other experts say the six babies could face significant health challenges and will need extensive medical support.

Each weighs two pounds

According to reports, the babies — four boys and two girls — each weighed two pounds. One of the babies was born naturally and the others by emergency caesarean section, reports said.

Sextuplets are extremely rare. Only 160 cases have ever been documented.

Experts familiar with multiple births say fertility drugs often play a role. In vitro (IVF) treatment permits eggs, usually two or three, to be fertilized outside the womb.

But with drugs, a woman can have many eggs fertilized at once and it’s impossible to control how many of those eggs become viable.

Sextuplets born to Susan Rosenkowitz and her husband Colin on Jan. 11, 1974, in Cape Town, South Africa, were the first sextuplets known to survive their infancy.

Canada’s most famous multiple births were the Dionne quintuplets, delivered in May 1934 by a country doctor in a rural northern Ontario farmhouse. They became international Depression-era celebrities, their every move recorded and written about.

They were the first quintuplets known to have survived infancy.

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