An American woman has made history after she gave birth to eight babies in five minutes — only the world’s second live-born set of octuplets.
The mother, who has not been identified, gave birth to six boys and two girls at the Kaiser Permanante Bellflower Medical Center in Southern California.
The hospital had scheduled a Caesarean section for seven babies, but doctors were surprised by the eighth.
The first baby was born at 10:43am US time yesterday and the eighth just five minutes later.
All the babies, who weigh between 1.8lbs and 3.4lbs, are doing well, according to doctors.
Doctors said the babies were born nine weeks premature but are in a stable condition.
Two newborns were placed on ventilators and a third needs oxygen.
Forty-six hospital staff and four delivery rooms were used for the births. After a baby was born, staff rushed the newborn into another room and waited for the next, the hospital said. But despite weeks of preparation, doctors did not expect the eighth child.
“It is quite easy to miss a baby when you're anticipating seven babies,” said Dr Harold Henry, chief of maternal and fetal medicine at the hospital. “Ultrasound doesn't show you everything.”
It is understood the babies will probably remain in the hospital for at least two months. The mother should be released in a week. It is reported that she is planning to breastfeed all eight babies.
Dr Henry added: “The babies are all doing well and the mom is also doing well. There were no complications from the surgery to the best of my knowledge.
“They were all screaming and kicking around very vigorously.”
Dr Karen Maples, who had been looking after the mother since the first trimester, said: “We decided to proceed with the delivery in anticipation of seven babies.
“We had done some drills, some preliminary dry runs.
“Lo and behold, after we got to Baby G, which is what we expected, we were surprised by Baby H. My eyes got to be the size of saucers. We just went on and delivered the babies.
“They were all live born, very vigorous, it was a truly, truly amazing delivery.”
Kaiser spokeswoman Myra Suarez said she could not release any information about the mother, including her condition or whether she used fertility drugs. Such drugs make multiple births more likely.
The first live-born octuplets were born in Houston in 1998, and one baby died about a week later. The surviving siblings — girls Ebuka, Gorom, Chidi, Chima and Echerem, and their brothers Ikem and Jioke — celebrated their 10th birthday in December.
Their Nigerian-born parents, Nkem Chukwu and Iyke Louis Udobi, said they are astonished and grateful that their children have grown up to be healthy and active.
Chukwu said that the parents of the newest octuplets have much to look forward to.
“Just enjoy it. It's a blessing, truly a blessing,” Chukwu said. In 1996 British mother Mandy Allwood became pregnant with eight babies after undergoing fertility treatment. She later lost all of the babies prematurely.