Octuplets Sound Alarm Bells for Fertility Experts

Docs can avoid high multiples, and try hard; babies' risk is huge
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2009 8:45 AM CST
Dr. Jalil Riazi, right speaks to the media yesterday as Dr. Karen Maples listens during a news conference on the octuplets born Monday.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – After Monday’s birth of octuplets in southern California, fertility experts are raising concerns that the mother’s doctors went ahead with procedures that could result in such a high-order multiple birth. It’s not hard to avoid fertilizing so many eggs at once, and the danger for both mother and babies rises sharply beyond triplets, authorities tell the Los Angeles Times.

The only probable way to get eight viable eggs is an intense drug therapy, but doctors are supposed to stop treatment if too many eggs have been produced. Babies born in high multiples are always premature, and risk deadly infections and brain damage. Even if they survive the riskiest first month, problems like cerebral palsy could plague them for life.