Reports in the local media about a Tunisian woman pregnant with
12 babies have caught the attention of Tunisian health authorities.
The woman was reportedly in her ninth and final month of
pregnancy and was expected to have a normal vaginal delivery of the
12 babies, according to the newspapers Alchourouk and Assabah.
Confirmation was not forthcoming from the family or her lawyer,
but the Tunisian Health Ministry intended to send an official
delegation to the woman to investigate the report, a source close
to the Tunisian government told the German Press Agency dpa.
There was suspicion in Tunisia that the multiple pregnancy was a
scam intended for profit. Multiple births generally come at least
two months early, and require Caesarean section to protect the soft
heads of the very small foetuses from damage.
The woman was reportedly being cared for round the clock in a
hospital in the city of Gafsa, about 350 kilometres southwest of
the capital Tunis.
Husband insists it’s a natural pregnancy
The husband of the woman told the newspaper Assabah that his
wife was expecting six boys and six girls. He insisted it was a
natural pregnancy, and that she had not taken hormones or other
Physicians said the woman and her 12 foetuses were in "good
shape," and they anticipated delivery without Caesarian section,
After being unemployed for years, the woman married her husband
in July 2007 and had suffered two miscarriages since then,
Alchourouk reported. She is to remain in hospital until delivery.
A successful pregnancy with 12 babies would be a medical
sensation. The highest known number of multiple births was nine, to
a woman in Australia in 1971. All nine babies died after several
Survival of babies slim
The survival chance of the babies depends on how much time they
have spent in the uterus. They often weigh less than 1 000 grams
and need special medical care afterwards.
Large multiple births are usually the result of infertility
treatments with hormones that stimulate the production of eggs from
the mother's ovaries. Artificial insemination can also lead to
large multiple births if more than one or two fertilised eggs are
implanted in the uterus.
The most recent known successful large multiple birth was in
January to a California women, who delivered eight babies nine
The Caesarean delivery required a team of 46 doctors and
helpers, and the babies weighed between 880 grams and 1.47
kilograms. All eight needed to spend about two months in
In 1998, a Nigerian-born woman in Texas gave birth to octuplets
extremely prematurely, seven of whom survived. – (Sapa, August 2009)
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