Mali Ministry of Health and Social Development
A Malian woman has given birth to nine babies in what could become a world record. Halima Cissé had expected to have seven newborns: ultrasound sessions had not found two of her babies.
“The newborns (five girls and four boys) and the mother are all well,” said Mali’s health minister, Dr. Fanta Siby, in an announcement about the births.
The babies were born in Morocco, where Cissé was taken for specialist treatment at the end of March. Her pregnancy with several fetuses has been closely monitored in Mali, where the government helped pay for her medical evacuation to Morocco. Camera teams recorded her arrival.
Cissé, 25, gave birth by caesarean section – and doctors were surprised to find two more babies than expected, the health ministry said. The agency’s announcement of the successful births was welcomed on social media in Mali, but several people also called on the government to improve the standard of medical care in the poor West African country and note the cost of such evacuations.
Professor Youssef Alaoui, medical director of the private Ain Borja clinic in Casablanca, where Cissé gave birth, said the babies were born after 30 weeks. The newborns weighed between 500 grams and 1 kg (about 1.1 to 2.2 pounds), he told reporters in Morocco.
Cissé is in intensive care, but her condition is stable, Alaoui said, explaining that she suffered a severe bleeding in connection with the enlargement of the uterus. During her stay at the clinic, the doctors tried to postpone the birth for several weeks to give the fetuses extra time to develop. The clinic has deployed a team of about 30 staff to help the mother give birth and care for her nine children, Alaoui said.
Abdeljalil Bounhar / AP
During the birth, Cissé’s husband, Adjutant Kader Arby, remained in Mali with their daughter, according to the BBC.
“I’m very happy” that Cissé and the nine babies are doing well, “Arby told the network. In the excitement of their birth, he added: “Everyone called me! Everyone called! The Malian authorities called to express their joy. I thank them … Even the president called me.”
The current world record for the number of live births is eight – a trademark set by Nadya Suleman of California in 2009, according to Guinness World Records. But that feat also sparked controversy when medical experts and the public discussed the use of fertility treatments to produce octaplets. Suleman’s eight children were delivered nine weeks prematurely, also by caesarean section.
A Guinness World Records representative tells NPR: “We have yet to verify this as a record, as the well-being of both mothers and babies is a top priority.” The organization says they are investigating the possible new record and are hiring a specialist consultant for the case.
It is not publicly known whether Cissé’s pregnancy was due to fertility treatments, as Sulemans did. Alaoui tells The Associated Press that he does not know of her receiving such treatments.
The use of in vitro fertilization and other treatments, such as drugs that induce ovulation, has been associated with a boom in multiple births for decades since 1981, when the first baby in the United States was conceived with the help of reproductive technology.