Russian Quintuplets born in the UK doing well

Quintuplets delivered by a Russian woman in an English hospital on Thursday are said to be doing well, although they will remain in a high dependancy unit for some time. The babies, who were all girls, were born prematurely by caesarean section.

A new mother of 5 babies has been forced to give birth outside her Russian homeland because she refused to have a selective reduction on religious grounds. The five girls were born prematurely by caesarean section in Oxford.

The mother is a 29-year-old music teacher who did not want to be named.

The woman underwent fertility treatment which makes multiple births more likely.

The happy mother prefers to stay unnamed
The happy mother prefers to stay unnamed

Her doctors in Russia had strongly advised her to reduce the number of foetuses, since giving birth to quintuplets can be dangerous both for the mother and babies.

Lawrence Impey, a consultant obstetrician from John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, says that they'd also discussed the selective reduction with the woman. The doctor says, “there is no question that the outlook for any pregnancy like this is improved if the number of babies is reduced at a relatively early stage – around about three months”.

However, “by the time that the woman came to us, which was about 15 weeks, it was too late to do that kind of procedure and she certainly didn't want it done in any event,” Lawrence Impey says.

“So, what we had to do was to try and make the pregnancy go on as long as possible,” he concludes. 

The quintuplet girls were delivered by a team of 18 doctors and nurses of the John Radcliffe Hospital 14 weeks ahead of the scheduled term. Each baby weighs 800-960 grammes.

Doctors say the prospects for the babies’ survival are good.

“With the resuscitation that took place in the intensive care they’ve received they responded very well. Now they are receiving continuing care. They still need support with their breathing. And we don’t expect that there is any likelihood that will deteriorate. Premature babies do have other complications that can occur and we’ll be on the lookout for those,” Andrew Wilkinson, Clinical Director of John Radcliffe Hospital said.

The father of the girls
The father of the girls

However, they will not return to Russia for at least the next four months.

The mother's trip and medical care in England was paid for by philanthropists in Russia.

“It seems that in this country we haven’t had a set of quintuplets for ten years. There will be multiple pregnancies like this but the vast majority will deliver before the point where babies can survive,” doctor Lawrence Impey says.

Andrey Akopyan, the Director of the Centre for Human Reproduction in Moscow says that the “number of cases of pregnancies with several foetuses and deliveries of twins and triplets has increased significantly starting from the 1980s when they started using IVF [In vitro fertilisation] treatment”.

In the late 1990s, he explains, “many countries such as the Benelux and Scandinavia started implementing legal restrictions on a number of foetuses to be carried, limiting them to two or three”.

“The purpose of medical treatment was to deliver one healthy child. Twins are allowed, even though in other countries it means a large stress on a woman that could lead to health consequences, and even death. Moreover, it is bad for the embryos,” Akopyan says.