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Wednesday, June 17, 1998 Published at 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK

World: Americas

Baby born on the web

The delighted parents and their newly born child

A woman has given birth to a baby boy in the first-ever live broadcast of a birth on the Internet.

An estimated audience of two million people watched the event according the American Health Network which organised the broadcast.

The mother, who was identified only as Elizabeth, had labour induced at 6 am local time (1000 GMT) and gave birth at 10.40 am (1440 GMT) to a baby boy named Sean.

[ image: Elizabeth prepares for a TV appearence]
Elizabeth prepares for a TV appearence
"The baby was just born. Everything's fine. Everyone's in good shape," said spokeswoman Barbara Rodriquez.

The birth

The birth took place at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Women and Children, in Orlando, Florida.

Dr. Walter Larimore narrated the birth for the Internet audience from the delivery room. "Here comes Sean's head. He has a lot of hair on his head," he said.

Forty-year-old Elizabeth, the mother, groaned several times before the 7lb, 8 oz (3.41 kilo) baby was born.

[ image: Father and family watch the birth as those on the Interent observe them in turn.]
Father and family watch the birth as those on the Interent observe them in turn.
Cameras were held at the mother's side and in front of her hospital bed, but nurses' backs blocked any view of the actual delivery.

'Educational event'

The broadcast of the birth was advertised as an educational event.

A hospital room was turned into a television studio for the event and the birth was shot from a "discreet" angle over the mother's shoulder.

Elizabeth was judged to be a "perfect candidate" for the event because she already had three children and her previous deliveries had been swift.

The mum-to be also decided prior to the birth to have her labour induced, so the baby would arrive on time for the internet audience.

Site under strain

At least 50,000 people tried to log on to the network's Web site for the birth, overwhelming the system, which was set up for about 10,000 people at a time.

The network's own technicians had trouble getting access to the site from the media room at the hospital.

"I wouldn't say we underplanned," said J. Tod Fetherling, president of America's Health Network-Interactive. "We had scaled out for the biggest number we could imagine and we have reached beyond that."

The Orlando-based cable network's claim that it was the world's first Internet delivery was disputed by Tammy Barnes of Golden, Colorado, who says she gave birth over the Internet in February.

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