Our pediatrician weighs in.
At 31 weeks pregnant, the California mother of octuplets gave birth to six boys and two girls. Though considered a miracle by many, there are many very serious health issues to be aware of, and choosing to continue carrying all eight babies is a very serious decision. "Babies have less room to grow when there are multiples in the womb," says ML pediatrician Dr.Cara Natterson, "All of these babies were born below 'normal' weight and three of the babies were born at less than 1000 grams, that is very very small."
Premature babies will typically face many short and long-term health issues including: breathing and lung problems, physical and mental development challenges and infections from being in the hospital for an extended period of time when their immune systems are still extremely fragile. For a baby under 1000 grams, these risks get even greater and the likelihood of these health issues exacerbated.
Of course, premature babies have a higher risk of mortality as well. In celebrating the miracle of birthing eight children, shouldn't we be concerned as to how this will affect the lives of these babies? Parents do have the option for selective reduction, and we don't know why in this case the mother did not choose that option. Dr. Cara stresses that "the number of risks increases with each fetus. They have less room to grow, therefore they are more likely to be premature."
|Dr. Cara Natterson, a graduate of Harvard University and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and author of Your Toddler: Head To Toe, is a pediatrician and mother of 2. She is working on her forthcoming book, Dangerous or Safe?|