Mali woman gives birth to nine babies in Morocco

Five girls and four boys 'are all doing well' in what is thought to be a world first

A Malian woman gave birth to nine babies at once – after expecting seven, according to Mali's Minister of Health and the Moroccan clinic where the nonuplets were born.

It appears to be the first time on record that a woman has given birth to nine babies at once, with all surviving.

The five girls and four boys, and their mother, "are all doing well," Mali's health minister said.

The mother, Halima Cisse, 25, gave birth to the babies by caesarean section on Tuesday in Morocco after being sent there for special care.

The babies, in incubators, were seen wriggling their hands and feet on Wednesday in the private Ain Borja clinic in Casablanca. Medical staff checked their status regularly in the neonatal ward.

Ms Cisse was expecting seven babies. Malian doctors, under government orders, sent her to Morocco for the births because hospitals in Mali, one of the world's poorest countries, are ill-equipped to provide adequate care for this exceptional multiple pregnancy.

The director of the Casablanca clinic, Youssef Alaoui, told Moroccan state TV that they had been contacted by Malian doctors about the case a month and a half ago.

They were not expecting nine babies, he said.

Ms Cisse gave birth prematurely at 30 weeks and is now in stable condition after being given a blood transfusion to combat heavy bleeding, he said.

The caesarean was ordered after Ms Cisse had “birth pains”, Dr Alaoui said. The babies weigh between 500 grams and one kilogram each.

The Guinness Book of World Records said in an email to the Associated Press on Wednesday that its record for most living births at once is eight, and that it is verifying the Morocco birth.

The holder of the Guinness record is American Nadya Suleman, who gave birth to eight premature but otherwise healthy children in 2009.

Dr Alaoui said that as far as he was aware Ms Cisse had not used fertility treatments. The Malian health ministry did not provide any other information about the pregnancy or births.

Yacoub Khalaf, a professor of reproductive medicine at King's College London, said that such births would be extraordinarily unlikely without fertility treatment, and noted the dangers involved with multiple births.

The mother “was at severe risk of losing her uterus or losing her life”, he said. The babies “could suffer physical and mental handicaps. The risk of cerebral palsy is astronomically higher”.

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