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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 November 2007, 07:34 GMT
UK-born quintuplets 'doing well'
The mother and father of the quintuplets with one of their daughters
The quintuplets are the first to be born in the UK for five years

Quintuplets born to a Russian woman in a British hospital are doing well, according to doctors.

The 29-year-old music teacher gave birth to the five girls in the early hours of Saturday at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital, 14 weeks early.

They ranged in weight from 1lb 13oz to 2lb 2oz after being delivered by Caesarean section by a team of 18 doctors and nurses.

It is the first birth of quintuplets in the UK for five years.

The last set were born in Belfast at the end of 2002 and have now just started school.

High-risk pregnancies

Doctors in Russia had urged this mother, whose name is not being disclosed, to have selective terminations.

She had had a drug-based fertility treatment which makes multiple births more likely, but the couple refused to have abortions on religious grounds.

The mother's relatives contacted Oxford doctor Lawrence Impey, who specialises in caring for mothers with high-risk pregnancies.

The first set of surviving quintuplets were the Dionne sisters born in Ontario, Canada, in 1934. They were taken from their parents and exhibited in front of paying customers for more than a decade
The first surviving quintuplets in the UK were born in 1969 to a couple from Essex. The mother had been given a fertility drug and a team of 26 was needed to deliver the girls
The last quintuplets to be born in the UK were delivered in a Belfast hospital. They were only the 12th set of natural quintuplets to be born worldwide since records began

He said: "I'm very pleased to be able to help this delightful family and that they asked us to look after them.

"Mother is recovering well and the babies are doing well."

Doctors said the prospects for the babies surviving was now good as the main danger had come immediately after birth.

The hospital said the babies will be cared for in this country until they are strong and well enough to return to Russia with their parents.

All the medical costs have been met by a group of Russian philanthropists. The risks to mother and babies in such multiple pregnancies are high, with the majority miscarrying or giving birth too early for survival.

Dr Lawrence Mascarenhas, consultant obstetrician at St Thomas's hospital in London, said: "There are obviously risks to the babies who are born very early and there are also significant risks to the mother during pregnancy.

"During the pregnancy there are significant risks of raised blood pressure and all sorts of other complications that can occur."

Dr Mascarenhas said the worry was first the babies' survival, and then long-term damage as a result of being born prematurely.

'Unusual case'

All the children are now in intensive care after doctors and nurses worked in teams of five, each taking it in turn to deliver a baby.

Other hospitals in the south of England were put on alert to care for some of the babies if necessary because of the huge burden of caring for pre-term deliveries.

A team from Queen Charlotte's Hospital in London is now looking after two of the girls.

A spokeswoman for Bliss, the pre-term baby charity, said: "The first days are crucial, but this is such an unusual case.

"The doctors will be telling the parents to take it hour by hour, day by day and week by week."

Belfast quins defying the odds
16 Dec 02 |  Health
Multiple births and fertility treatment
21 Dec 98 |  Medical notes
Walton sextuplets come of age
14 Nov 01 |  Health

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