Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Saturday, 16 August 2008 18:25 UK

Septuplet joy for Egyptian couple

Egyptian nurses tend to septuplets in Alexandria
Egypt's government has promised free milk and nappies for two years

An Egyptian woman has given birth to seven babies in the northern city of Alexandria, doctors said.

The mother, named as 27-year-old Ghazala Khamis, is said to be well and the septuplets - four boys and three girls - are reported to be stable.

The babies are said to weigh between 1.45 and 2.8kg (3-6lb); the couple already have three girls.

They sought fertility treatment hoping to have a boy, and were said to be astonished at the multiple pregnancy.

Since the introduction of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment 30 years ago, the number of multiple births has increased dramatically.

Health experts say septuplets are very rare, and it is even less common for all to survive.

The seven were delivered by Caesarean section a month early, and all have been placed in incubators designed for premature babies.

The woman's brother said that the Egyptian health minister had promised free milk and nappies for the babies for two years, to help the family cope.

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