Though doctors speculated that the California mother of octuplets had used fertility drugs to conceive, it's now being reported that she had the embryos implanted...and was already the mother of six children.
A family acquaintance revealed yesterday that the previously anonymous California woman who gave birth to octuplets on Monday is a 33-year-old single mother who lives with her parents and already has six children (including twins), according to MSNBC. Within hours, the media had tracked down the still unnamed woman's parents and set up camp outside their home. Angela Suleman, the children's grandmother, says her daughter had embryos implanted last year. When she found out she was pregnant with multiples, she was given the option of selectively reducing the number of embryos and she declined. "What do you suggest she should have done? She refused to have them killed," said Suleman. "That is a very painful thing."
Previously, fertility experts had guessed that the octuplets were the result of fertility drugs taken before artificial insemination because, as British gynecologist Peter Bowen puts it, "no doctor in his right mind" would implant eight embryos in a woman's womb. The L.A. Times reports that, under the guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, U.S. doctors normally would not implant more than two embryos at a time in a woman under the age of 35. But, it appears that there was a doctor who doesn't have the same ethical reservations as Bowen and did not follow the U.S. guidelines. As discussed on Babble yesterday, the birth of the octuplets has caused the media and some OB/GYNs to say that it may be time to reduce the chances that a woman will get pregnant with multiples due to the health risks. Multiples are often born prematurely and are more likely to have cerebral palsy or not survive the first week of life. Women who carry multiples have a greater risk for pre-eclampsia, miscarriage, and hemorrhaging. Because of these risks, Britain recently released new guidelines that only allow IVF doctors to implant one embryo at a time, unless the woman is over 40, in which case they may implant two, and other countries have issued similar restrictions.